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Santa Maria Sun / Art

The following article was posted on November 6th, 2013, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 14, Issue 35 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 14, Issue 35

More than a coat of paint: PCPA Theaterfest's Marian Theatre renovation is complete


PCPA artistic director Mark Booher explained that the improvements in the Marian Theatre’s dressing rooms will make for more comfortable, creative actors.

Construction sounds emanated from on, above, and below the stage of the Marian Theatre on Oct. 28 as PCPA Theaterfest artistic director Mark Booher led several members of the press through the nearly completed building.

“It really is amazing,” he said. “I think people might ask, ‘How could you have spent $5 million on this building?’ But it’s going to make this building run for the next 30 years.”

Built in 1968, the Marian Theatre has been running nonstop for 44 years, Booher explained. PCPA—when it isn’t presenting performances during the evening—is using most of the theater’s features for rehearsing and teaching various aspects of the live theater business.

“For the students of this college,” he said, “this is going to really enhance their experience of playmaking.”

Anyone who has less than a photographic memory might not notice that a whole lot has changed when sitting in the Marian Theatre, but much has changed. The catwalk system was expanded to include another level for lighting the productions, while also reinforcing the system, making it sturdier and more secure.

While the Marian Theatre’s renovations are being completed, so is the set for the upcoming production of Mary Poppins, PCPA’s first production in the newly renovated space.

Many more improvements happened in the belly of the beast. The Marian boasts four stories total, two of which are subterranean. Booher led the press cavalcade to the very lowest recess of the theater to share the sight of a shiny, steampunk-looking behemoth of engines, pipes, and ducts.

“No one else will ever see this room,” he said. “But this is the theater’s new air conditioner; we don’t want people to think ‘Oh, it’s hot in here,’ or ‘It’s cold in here.’ We want them to be thinking about the play.”

The audiences may also never see the new dressing rooms, which give the actors more space, better lighting, and updated plumbing and fixtures.

“We can actually accommodate more performers in the dressing room area,” Booher explained. “The water in this building was also outdated; you would turn the faucet on and the water would run brown. So redoing the plumbing, especially for the performers, was important.”

The Marian Theatre’s lobby was extended to meet safety requirements in order to simultaneously facilitate crowds from the Marian and Severson theaters. There’s also a new snack bar.

The renovation also gave the conservatory a chance to strip out all the layered years of electronic wiring and provide a more permanent, state-of-the-art system. The elevated control room that lords over the stage is now equipped with the finest technology needed to make shows happen, from the sound-system-running computer to the complicated winches that will make Mary Poppins fly in the upcoming production.

“The whole technical apparatus went up 300 percent, and my heart just jumped with glee,” Booher said. “We think it’s going to be magical.”

Enjoy the show
PCPA Theaterfest will be premiering its production of Mary Poppins in the Marian Theatre with a gala event on Nov. 9 starting at 5:30 p.m., and showing regularly through Dec. 22 at Allan Hancock College, 800 S. College, Santa Maria. Cost is $25 to $37.50. More info: 922-8313 or pcpa.org.

All these aspects will coalesce, Booher explained, to provide a more perfect theater experience to PCPA patrons. A more-comfortable performer, a better-equipped technician, and a roomier lobby area will contribute to the experience that is a PCPA production.

“For everybody who is working in this facility, it ups the ante a little bit,” he said. “If you show up for work and you are in a positive, state-of-the-art environment, you do better work, I think.”

Arts Editor Joe Payne is also excited about the concessions area. Contact him at jpayne@santamariasun.com.

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