A large crowd of supporters and donors gathered Friday morning in the freshly renovated lobby space of the Spencer Theatre on the UMKC campus.
After a seven-month, $5.6 million reconstruction, the Kansas City Repertory Theatre's primary venue now has a new stage floor, new seats, updated lighting and acoustic design as well as an expanded lobby.
“We’ve really made it into one of the most beautiful (regional) theaters, from what had been a really dated 1979 building,” says Eric Rosen, the Kansas City Rep's artistic director. “Now we have a building that matches the quality and caliber of of the national work that we put on our stage here at Spencer.”
Greg Graves, CEO of Burns & McDonnell, chairs the Rep's board of directors. Fresh from being named Kansas Citian of the Year by the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce, Graves was on hand Friday for the ribbon cutting ceremony.
“I believe that Kansas City is really on the precipice of being a top-ten American city in all the ways you might measure that,” says Graves.
“We have so many great examples of that already: the Kauffman Center, the Nelson. But for Kansas City to become a top-ten city, we must become a top-ten arts and theater town and the organization to take us there is the Kansas City Repertory Theatre. If it’s going to do that it needs terrific space, and we now have a terrific space.”
Rosen says he's pleased high school students at a matinee were the first audience in the renovated theater.
“For the very first performance to be 500 kids coming in for ‘A Christmas Carol’ is really meaningful," he says. "That’s the first audience who will experience this space and will experience it as a really working theater.”
Julie Denesha is a freelance photographer and reporter for KCUR. Follow her @juliedenesha.
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