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KC Rep Breaks Ground On $5.5 Million Renovation

Laura Spencer

Spencer Theatre, the main stage for Kansas City Repertory Theatre, opened in 1979 on the University of Missouri-Kansas City campus. The interior was updated with new seats in 2002, but over the past three decades, other changes have been limited. Starting May 18, however, a $5.5 million renovation gets underway. 

"It is my pleasure to welcome all of you today to the lobby of the Spencer Theatre, which six months from now will look significantly different than it does today," Scott Boswell, chair of the Rep's board of directors, said to a crowd of supporters and UMKC faculty and staff on Monday morning. 

The extensive renovations include 5,500 square feet of new construction, such as an expanded lobby, new restrooms, and a second-floor lounge. Inside the theater, new lighting and acoustic design will be added, as well as a new stage floor. 

Artistic Director Eric Rosen said producing in the Spencer Theatre right now is "challenging" due to key design flaws. He expects the improvements will change the experience for the company — and the audience.

"We’re making the theater work electronically, work lighting-wise, work sound-wise, so our audience has a top-of-the line experience that we don't have to fight so hard to make happen every single time we do a production," said Rosen. 

Officials announced they'd met the original fundraising goal of $5 million in February, but boosted it to $5.5 million due to a challenge grant for $250,000 from the David T. Beals, III Charitable Trust, Bank of America. 

Rosen thanked major donors, staffers and board members who had "dedicated so much to thinking through what it would take to give the Rep a frame worthy of the art we put on our stage." 

The project is expected to be completed in November, in time for the Rep's 2015 production of A Christmas Carol

Kansas City is known for its style of jazz, influenced by the blues, as the home of Walt Disney’s first animation studio and the headquarters of Hallmark Cards. As one of KCUR’s arts reporters, I want people here to know a wide range of arts and culture stories from across the metropolitan area. I take listeners behind the scenes and introduce them to emerging artists and organizations, as well as keep up with established institutions. Send me an email at lauras@kcur.org or follow me on Twitter @lauraspencer.
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