Opera House facelift gifts: ‘magical’ stage, more seating

April 6, 2013

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As the Granbury Opera House undergoes a facelift, officials are careful to see that it maintains its historical significance.

But not everything is going to be the same. In fact, when it comes to the actual onstage product, things will be quite different.

For starters, there will now be a stage UNDER the main stage. A pit going down 8 feet can house an orchestra, but then it also goes back 40 feet.

“The entire stage will have a basement,” Granbury Theatre Company Executive Director Andrew Barrus said.

Because of the open area directly below the stage, Opera House shows will have entire sets disappear as the floor drops. As some set pieces are moved out of the way, another complete set can rise from below.

“This is Broadway-type stuff,” said Barrus. “It changes everything. The world of theater has changed to where the average person is saying ‘I want magic.’ Now we can give it to them.”

There is also going to be a stage ABOVE the main stage, an exact replica, in fact.

“The entire second floor is going to be rehearsal space,” said Barrus. “By being the exact same size as the stage itself, we can rehearse to the exact dimensions as the show being produced and not have to concern ourselves with adjusting to scale.”

There’s even more to the main stage itself. Nearly twice as much as before. The 33-foot stage, combined with a 7-foot apron area, equals a 40-foot deck, an increase of 16 feet from before.

“There’s nothing like having a big upstage area,” said Barrus. “That is one particular area I would not compromise on.”

And, according to Barrus, the backstage area is also going to be bigger than ever before. He said 7,600 square feet will be added to the wing space, along with new dressing rooms.

“It’s a big improvement. We’ve got room for lots back there,” he said. “The backstage area is world-class, on par with anything we had with Cirque du Soleil.”

Of course, with a renovated theater come folks who want to see the changes. Barrus said seating will increase by about 50 to around 350.

“I had three priorities when we started this, a good seat count, depth of stage and wing space,” said Barrus.

“They (city officials) were pretty keen to make sure they listened. They were willing to go the extra mile.

“I really feel like when people go into that facility for the first time they will be so proud of the work that’s been done.”

As for when they will be able to see the finished product, Barrus is targeting a holiday showing of “A Christmas Carol” Nov. 29-Dec. 23.

“That’s a perfect time,” he said. “It’s a brilliant piece, an emotional story, a wonderful way to welcome in the new Granbury Opera House.”

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