The original Newsome High School auditorium has remained largely unchanged since it was constructed in 2003. Anyone attending a production at the 600-seat venue knows that the seating capacity is inadequate for the school’s burgeoning student population and isn’t optimal for theatrical or musical performances.
The space is about to get a refresh, and school district officials and architects have asked for input from students, staff, parents and members of the community.
Peter Hepner of Hepner Architects, heading up the project, was on hand at a public meeting in January where he recorded attendees’ comments. Hepner is confident his team will produce spectacular results.
“We have the right team assembled who have run shows and productions and know how to design a performing arts theater with the educational space to support it,” said Hepner.
A few dozen enthusiastic patrons of the arts attended to offer their suggestions for the new space. Several students discussed that, in addition to a larger auditorium, more classroom space dedicated to the arts is necessary. This year, the auditorium doubles as the orchestra classroom, and space for the bulky instruments is nonexistent. At the meeting, many instruments were lined up against the theater’s back wall.
A larger lobby was also suggested, with more space for fundraising and concessions as well as space to display awards the students have earned. Other requests mentioned included improving the acoustics, purchasing a new sound system, building a larger stage and orchestra pit that would allow multiple programs to perform together and a catwalk so lighting can be adjusted mid-performance.
Newsome Chorus teacher Jeff Bogue shared his excitement about the project. He and other teachers have compiled a document detailing their ideas for the space.
“The biggest thing we want to express is that the next facility should be built for future growth and should be a space that can be rented out and shared with the community,” he said. “If we’re going to do it, let’s do it right.”
Hepner was attentive to all the suggestions and hopes to work within the budget (roughly 9 million dollars) to create a space that exceeds expectations.
“We’re proud to be a part of this project and will make sure it’s done right,” said Hepner.
The auditorium is expected to be completed by August 2023. For more information about the project, email Lauren Otero at Lauren.Otero@hcps.net.