WNCC theater construction wrapping up, opening night planned for June 14
SCOTTSBLUFF — A new performing arts center, learning commons and student success center at Western Nebraska Community College remains under construction. The opening of the new theater is a month away.
WNCC board treasurer Bill Knapper, vice president of administrative services and chief financial officer, said the project is approximately 75% complete.
“We’ve been focusing on the theater because we need to be ready for Theatre West’s season this summer,” he said. “We’re focusing on that so the other office areas and the learning commons area are a little bit behind. The theater is rushing into completion right now.”
Knapper said the project is tracking under budget, with the college not using funds set aside in a contingency account.
As the renovation nears completion, Knapper shared how the bomb cyclone impacted progress, especially in the theater, during a media tour Tuesday.
“A few weeks earlier, we had the bomb cyclone and it really made a mess of the construction grounds,” Knapper said. “Fortunately, we dried out. When that bomb cyclone came through, certain trades were not able to get to town, particularly those trades dealing with the technical features in the theater — audio, visual, rigging.”
On Tuesday, construction workers were preparing the grounds around the theater entrance for landscaping as others worked to install the rotating floor on the theater stage. The new entrance on the northeast side of the Platte Valley Companies Performing Arts Center, where the Judy Chaloupka Theater is located, will be ADA accessible. There will be a garden area along both sides of the sidewalk, which WNCC President Todd Holcomb said he hopes will be a place for people to hangout ahead of a show.
“It will be a tranquility type of garden and an opportunity for individuals to just sit back and enjoy before they go to a performing arts event,” Holcomb said.
The new theater opens with the first Theatre West productions of “Forever Plaid” on June 14. A ribbon-cutting ceremony will be June 15.
The new theater will seat 493 people and includes a scene shop behind the stage for the cast to load and build sets. The public will also have access to bathrooms on the main floor outside the theater. There are women’s, men’s and family restrooms.
“It was exciting walking through today,” Holcomb said. “People don’t realize I started working on this seven years ago and to see it so near completion is really heartwarming. I think it’s going to dramatically change the college for decades to come.”
When the new facility opens this fall, Holcomb said it will be 50 years since it was last renovated and gutted.
“It’s a new life for the college.”
Theatre West Managing Director Tami Lippstreu is excited about the new theater.
“Just to have the newest facilities and to have all the technologies that comes with it, we think this is going to be a wonderful experience for everyone,” Lippstreu said. “I think in general musical theater and theatrical productions, there is so much going into sound and lighting anymore — projections and animations. We will be in that forefront now, so that’s very exciting.”
Theatre West season tickets for 2019 are on sale. Tickets can be purchased by mail or online through May 28. The summer box office will open in the temporary headquarters at WNCC May 28, prior to moving into the new box office and lobby June 8.
Season tickets for adults are $48, seniors are $42 and students are $18.
This year’s performing arts season will open with the production of “Forever Plaid,” slated for performances on June 14, 15, 20-22 at 7:30 p.m., and June 22 at 2 p.m. The second production is “Shrek The Musical,” which will open June 27 and additional shows will be June 28, 29, July 5 and 6 at 7:30 p.m., and June 29, 30 and July 6 at 2 p.m. “The Music Man” will be July 18, 19, 20, 25, 26, 27 at 7:30 p.m., and July 20 at 2 p.m. The final production is “Lion King Jr.,” which opens July 27 at 2 p.m. with an encore performance July 28.
For more information about the Theatre West 2019 performing arts season, visit www.theatrewestnebraska.com.
The rest of the construction project and the grounds are expected to be completed and open in late July or early August.