by Terry Rogers
Normally filled with the sounds of actors rehearsing lines, the sounds of hammers and saws fill the Riverfront Theater right now. According to Tracy Dissinger, the theater us undergoing an extensive renovation.
“Currently new piers under the building, footers, subfloors, flooring, doors and more are being replaced,” Dissinger said. “More ladies rooms are being added and all current bathrooms are being improved for handicapped accessibility. We have removed three rows of seats, bringing our capacity to 140 and the tech booth is being moved to the second story balcony. The lobby is moving in 15 feet and the slope of the floor reduced, so there is basically new everything.” Dissinger explained that the theater will now be separated from the lobby by doors instead of curtains allowing for more participation in downtown events.
Dissinger pointed out that the river has been a “tough neighbor” and that the flowing water has taken a toll on the building. The theater group realized a few years ago that extensive renovations were necessary in order to bring the building up-to-date and improve the facilities. The last renovation was in 2015 when the auditorium was painted, but in 2012 the crawlspace encapsulation was completed. The roof was raised and replaced in 2000.
“We saved funds for three years, received donations and received grants to pay for the renovation,” Dissinger said. “We have also applied for the Downtown Development Grant/Rebate program. As an organization, we are cautious with our funds and spend wisely.”
Dissinger gave credit to the late Bob Connelly getting the ball rolling on renovation of the theater.
“Before Bob passed away three years ago, he was a vibrant, outspoken board member for our theater,” Dissinger said. “Bob started the fire on our renovation, stressing that we needed to plan for the future and provide the best possible experience for our audience and our volunteers. Through many revisions, many arguments, a couple builders, many trips to the City, several engineers, an amazing architect and countless board meetings, here we are. And I think Bob would be proud of us.”
While the theater is under renovation, Second Street Players will present “To Kill a Mockingbird” February 1, 2, 3 and 8, 9 and 10 at the Milford High School. On March 1, 2 and 3, the theater group will present the “Legend of Sleepy Hollow” at the high school as well. Tickets and times are available at www.secondstreetplayers.com.
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