Village Theatre getting big open lobby | August 21, 2009 | Danville Express | |

Danville Express

Newsfront - August 21, 2009

Village Theatre getting big open lobby

Renovations include larger restrooms, exhibit spaces

by Dolores Fox Ciardelli

Construction workers were busy this week at their task of renovating the Village Theatre lobby.

"Our contract ends the end of September," said project manager Duane Bendixen of Eric F. Anderson Inc. "It will definitely be available by Oct. 15."

He noted that they have found surprises working in the historic building, such as three inches of siding that had been added over the years. The second floor was originally the Danville Grange Hall, built in 1873. It was moved upward and the ground floor added, and the two-story building has served as a movie theater and a church as well as a performing arts theater.

Offices have been added upstairs that now house town recreation staff, and the renovation project is in its final phase.

"We're doing a number of things downstairs," said Assistant Town Manager Marcia Somers.

These include updating the restroom facilities with six stalls in each; remodeling the area that was staff offices and concessions; moving the beverage bar to a more central area; adding an office for cultural arts staff; and providing for both an interior and an exterior box office.

"We can move people through more quickly for performances," explained Somers.

"The most important part is the enlarged lobby," she said. "We made it much more open. It was very closed in and dark. We will have lighter carpet this time."

Role Players Ensemble Theatre, a nonprofit group that presents its productions in association with the Town of Danville, has three shows each year in the Village Theatre. It will open "The House of Blue Leaves" by John Guare in the renovated theater on Nov. 6.

"What's nice about the enlarged lobby for Role Players Ensemble is for the opening night galas, it will be a nice, bigger space," said Somers. "We have been able to lower the floor to give more height to make the room appear and feel a little larger."

Plans call for exhibits on display in the lobby, mainly visual but with opportunities for three-dimensional, said Somers. Hours are still being finalized but they will probably be Wednesday through Sunday.

"We're looking forward to having the Village Theatre be a destination in addition to just performances," she noted.

Danville has secured the traveling exhibit, "Peanuts at Bat," from the Charles M. Schulz Museum, which will be on display in the Village Theatre from Nov. 14-Dec. 20.

A lighted marquee will grace the front of the theater.

"That's something our local theater groups as well as people who have rented in the past have really been interested in," said Somers, "so as people drive by they can say, 'Look what's showing now.'"

"We're eliminating excess asphalt and creating a small plaza to make more of a grand entry to the theater," she added, "and a drop-off and pick-up zone. It will be much more user-friendly."

Also they are creating a walkway from Front Street to the theater.

There will be four glass doors into the theater, two main entry doors, with additional doors on each side to open when patrons are exiting.

Somers also noted that surprises were found during the construction work, which they surmise were the result of using volunteer labor in the early days of the building.

"We found a door we didn't know was there when we took sheetrock down. It must have previously gone somewhere," she said. "And there were a couple of columns hidden from an earlier rendition."

The second floor once served as an art gallery for the Danville Area Cultural Alliance, but was closed a few years ago because the space was not compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. A small elevator will lead from the lobby space to the new second floor offices.

The Village Theatre renovation is costing approximately $620,000, said Somers.