By the afternoon of August 3, nearly all of the new seats for the Newtown High School auditorium were in place.
The first phase of the project is expected to be completed around August 21 or 22, and the second phase of the project is expected to be completed by November 28. The second phase includes work on the stage, including lighting.
While the seats were being installed, Geralyn Hoerauf, senior project manager for the firm STV/DPM, turned to office technical manager Joann Picone with Smith Edwards McCoy Architects, and said, “It’s exciting to see it looks like an auditorium.”
Theatre arts/English language arts teacher and NHS auditorium manager Janice Gabriel, who joined Ms Hoerauf and Ms Picone, looked out from the stage as the work was underway.
“I’m getting excited… It’s really becoming a real thing, and I can’t wait until it is officially done,” said Ms Gabriel.
The new chairs, Ms Gabriel added, “look great” and can hold people, unlike some of the broken chairs that had been removed, which is “a really exciting thing.” Having the seats installed helps show the change from how the auditorium was to what it is now, Ms Gabriel said.
Thanks to the NHS auditorium renovation project, Ms Gabriel said, once the entire project is complete, it will be the first time a student in a wheelchair will be able to go on stage “in years.”
Ms Gabriel teaches Unified Theater at NHS with Alysia Caffrey.
“For me… That’s what I love,” Ms Gabriel said.
With the second phase of the project not expected to be done until near the end of November, Ms Gabriel said the construction associated with the second phase will keep her fall classes out of the auditorium.
“We’ll be shut down until about the first of the year,” said Ms Gabriel.
Once the second phase is done, Ms Gabriel said students will begin working with professional systems that will prepare them to study theater in college.
“I think it looks great,” said Ms Hoerauf. “I love the whole thing.”
The carpet, once installed, will be multicolored, and Ms Gabriel said the light red of the seats was chosen to match the carpet.
“It was so dark in here, we wanted to really brighten up the space,” said Ms Gabriel, with Ms Hoerauf adding that the colors and materials for the space were chosen to hold up when the space is in use by students.
Ms Picone said the auditorium started to come together within the last couple of weeks as the finishing touches neared completion.
“Everything is getting painted. I think it is great,” said Ms Picone.
Ms Hoerauf said the project is still running on time.
Some things left to be completed, according to Ms Hoerauf, include additional painting, putting up railings on the side of the walls, and finishing the control booth near the main audience entrance to the space.