The sounds of hammers and saws will be heard on the heels of the tap, tap, tap of dancing shoes after June dance recitals on the Powers Auditorium stage.
Crews will hurry to ready the historical theater for the Youngstown Symphony Orchestra's gala opening concert with guest cellist Lynn Harrell on September 22. On that evening, concert-goers will enjoy a new ambiance and heightened safety features in the auditorium. The theater will be closing for the renovations this summer.
The work is part of the Youngstown Symphony Society's ongoing major expansion and capital improvement project at Symphony Center.
Seat refurbishing: The 1,576 seats on the main floor and the loge will be shipped to the manufacturer for refurbishment. To ensure correct reinstallation, each seat will be numbered. While at the factory, each seat mechanism will be retrofitted and the seats will be repainted and reupholstered. If refurbishing the remaining 80-year-old seats in the lower and upper balconies is not an option, the seats will be replaced to conform to industry standards and safety requirements.
Handicap-accessibility features will be added. Wheelchair ramps will be installed at doors. Workers will install seating that can be removed to accommodate wheelchairs.
Years ago, the society removed some seats from the theater. That area accommodates wheelchair seating during concerts and sound and lighting consoles during theatrical productions such as the society's Broadway Series.
Floor work: After the removal of the seats, the painted concrete floor will be stripped, repaired and covered with a permanent coating. Auditorium walls and ceiling will be painted and decorative moldings repaired.
Worn carpeting will be replaced in the auditorium, public ante room spaces and staircases to the mezzanine and lower salon.
To ensure the safety and comfort of patrons, handrails will be installed in the balcony and loge areas. The total cost of the Auditorium renovations is estimated to be $575,000.
Big project: The renovation of Powers Auditorium is part of an $8.6 million project. Last year the Symphony Society completed the east wing, housing the Beecher Foundation Library and facilities that enhanced patron convenience and comfort.
Storefront spaces were converted to a box office and administrative offices, and a handicap-accessible entrance was constructed. Additionally, the grand lobby entrance was restored to its original design. These improvements have streamlined operations and increased visitor access.