WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) – From Buffalo Bill Cody to Wilmington's own Linda Lavin, Thalian Hall has seen its share of celebrities, but now the theatre itself is taking center stage.
The hall has been home to community theater groups, professional touring companies, artistic films and educational programs. It's been a focal point of the city since its construction in the 1850s, greeting tens of thousands of visitors every year.
"Thalian Hall is one of the things that truly defines this community, makes it special," said Tony Rivenbark, the executive director at Thalian Hall. "It makes it unique. It's something that you show off. It's our living room. It's out best foot forward."
Less than a year ago Thalian Hall shut its doors for some major renovations. Now, ten months later, the theatre will reopen to show off its renewal.
The upgrades are breath-taking for theatre and history lovers alike. An intricate chandelier based on an 1871 gas light style chandelier hovers over the new theatre seats which feature improved leg room.
"We're just a little bigger than 19th century people, little taller, little broader in the beam and we need a little more space," explained Rivenbark.
Though bigger chairs mean fewer seats in the audience, Rivenbark thinks it's a small price to pay for the quality of their comfort.
Not only was seating improved on the lower level, the balcony, now called the dress circle, reaped the benefits as well.
"The dress circle is what the original name was that it was called," said Rivenbark. "We saved that name until we actually fixed it. This is really the place to see a show."
In front of the stage is a new orchestra pit which can rise to meet the stage when needed.
The theatre wasn't the only thing given a facelift. The lobby saw improvements as well.
"We've flip flopped the box office and the concession, and we think that's going to be a much, much better traffic pattern," explained Rivenbark.
The renovations also included a lot of safety measures like better exit signs, aisle lighting and hand rails.
The hall officially reopens this weekend with a production of a locally written musical called The Madness of May. Tickets are $25 and can be purchased at the Thalian Box Office.
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