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About that new carpet » So what’s the fuss about the new carpeting? The selection process took a year for a committee composed of donors, county and Ballet West officials, and the architects. The process was as complicated as negotiating a war treaty, one county official joked.
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"The carpeting is the largest surface area of any project," Currey says. "It’s the thing everyone will see, and hopefully nobody will notice."
Munk adds: "We hope to honor the integrity of the building with the carpet. It’s such a big part of the theater. You don’t realize that until you look at the theater empty, and you realize that the carpet is a big statement."
In the lobby, the new carpet will have a blackish gray background, with gold, red and black accents to complement wall colors and gold-accented wall friezes, replacing the old red carpeting with gold swirls.
In the house, the complementary carpet pattern will have a black background with gold swirl accents — "very tasteful," Munk says. The darker background was selected so it won’t provide illumination when the theater is darkened during shows.
The custom-designed wool carpets, from Shaw Contract Group, were the unanimous choice of the selection committee. The price was $185,296 for the flooring and installation in the Capitol Theatre, with an additional $230,430 planned for matching carpet and installation in the new building, according to Piper.
‘Poetically right space’ » Bené Arnold was ballet mistress when Ballet West debuted Willam F. Christensen’s "The Firebird" at Kingsbury in 1967. Mr. C had choreographed a big ballet based on a classic Russian fairy tale. She’s delighted to return to Kingsbury, Ballet West’s original home, for the Nov. 8-16 revival.
How Sklute promotes the Kingsbury performance: "It was the physically right space, but also the poetically right space for us to open our 50th-anniversary season."
For Utah Opera, the Capitol Theatre’s renovation offers an opportunity to experiment with theatrical elements, such as thrust staging platforms and dramatic lighting, to transform Abravanel Hall. Most of the front of the stage will be extended into the seating area for the company’s season-opening "Salome," a co-production with the Philadelphia Orchestra and Opera Philadelphia.
"The box seats in the first tier are practically going to be in the action, it’s that up close and personal," says Christopher McBeth, artistic director. In addition, orchestra players will be on the stage instead of a pit, "completely surrounded by the story of ‘Salome,’ " McBeth says. It helps, of course, that "Salome" is a one-act opera "with no real changes to the set, no matter how you present it. It works out perfectly."
In another experiment, from Nov. 14-17, the opera company is producing "Fatal Song," a stage play with musical moments featuring opera divas in an alternative universe who complain about having to die in the final act. The work, by Utah-based playwright Kathleen Cahill, will be performed with cabaret seating at The Rose. "I’m not letting anyone sit in the actual auditorium," McBeth says. "Everybody will be onstage."
For now, the effort to attract different audiences to opera appears to be working, according to McBeth, who claims the 250 seats available nightly are "selling like hotcakes."
Backstage at the Capitol Theatre
Capacity » 1,876
Opened » 1913 as the Orpheum Theatre, a vaudeville house, which also screened silent movies and “talkies”; renamed Capitol Theatre in the 1930s; purchased by Salt Lake County in 1976.
Renovated » In 1970s renovation, the stage was rebuilt, lobby expanded, adding box office and atrium; opened as a performing-arts center in 1978.
Current renovation » Begun in July; will be completed by December.
Phase 1A » $6 million renovation of the newly renamed Janet Quinney Lawson Capitol Theatre; improved sightlines, expanded orchestra pit; also new carpet, improved acoustics, audience seating and accessibility, and heating and air-conditioning systems.
Phase 1B » Construction of adjacent Jesse E. Quinney Ballet Centre, complete with 30 new bathrooms, ballet company offices and studios; scheduled to open Oct. 1, 2014.
Total project » $33.4 million combined budget for renovation and construction.
Backstage at Kingsbury Hall
Capacity » 1,913
Opened » May 22, 1930, as a performing-arts center at the University of Utah; original home for Utah Symphony, Ballet West, Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company and Repertory Dance Theatre.
Renovated » 1996; $14 million project expanding back-of-house operations, dressing and rehearsal rooms.
Renovated » 2007; front-of-house changes, eliminating center aisle, adding a rake to the floor and staggered center seating.
Historic elements » House murals, circa 1936, were a Works Progress Administration project; the 17-foot-square panels, designed by Florence E. Ware, depict drama through the ages.
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