Go-Ahead Given

Renovations at Music Hall Set to Begin in the Summer

Renovations of the Freede Little Theater and other areas of the Civic Center Music Hall will get underway this summer, thanks to a a go-ahead on the $14.1 million project given by the City Council earlier this week.

The renovations were approved with a 2017 vote as part of the Better Streets, Safer City bond package.

The theater is the only area of the Civic Center that has not been renovated since the 1940’s.

“We owe an enormous amount of gratitude to the citizens of Oklahoma City for recognizing the need for renovations and the importance of preserving the usability of this historic building,” a statement issued by the Civic Center Foundation said.

“It feels like a long time since the 2017 vote, and we are thrilled to begin the project and share the plans and progress with the citizens of Oklahoma City.”

“When it is completed, we know it will provide a state-of-the-art facility for arts organizations in Oklahoma City.” said Elizabeth Gray, executive director of the foundation.

Plans for the project have been in the works since the City Council approved the project’s preliminary design in October.

“The renovations bring the area up to modern theater standards and provide enhanced amenities while preserving the facility’s beautiful Art Deco-motif and architectural integrity,” the foundation’s executive director pointed out.

 “The renovations will restore as many historical areas as possible, and new spaces are inspired by the building’s original design in 1937,” said Ford Altenbern, the foundation’s project manager.

“A new addition on the north side of the building will serve as the entrance and lobby for the theater,” he added.

“At the Freede, patrons will enjoy a dedicated bar, new restrooms, balcony seating, and a new balcony lobby. 

“Other improvements to the building include a complete main lobby makeover with plush, spacious new seating, combined bar and café options, a relocated box office, a patron services desk, and a VIP lounge. Patrons will notice enhanced accessible entrances with powered doors and a family-friendly restroom.

 “These updates serve to improve the patron experience at the Civic Center vastly.”

The renovations are scheduled to begin in the summer and should take 18-24 months to complete, it was said.

The Civic Center will remain open and operational during the renovations.

“While the Freede has served our community well, the space is ready and overdue for these renovations,” said Donald Jordan, the founding artistic director of the Oklahoma City Repertory Theater.

“The renovations will take us into the next 20 years with a state-of-the-art home.”

“It will combine the warmth, intimacy and charm of the space with modern capabilities,” he said.

“Of course, that will enable us to continue to bring great professional theater to central Oklahoma in service to our community’s artistic, economic, and educational needs.”

“We are excited!” Barbara DeMaio, executive director of Painted Sky Opera, added.

“Painted Sky Opera is thrilled with the forthcoming renovations,” she continued.  “Our patrons will enjoy a better experience from the moment they enter the building, with a lovely new lobby and dedicated bar and bathrooms just for the Freede. 

“Adding an orchestra pit and the renovation of backstage and lighting equipment will give us exciting options for our productions. We are grateful to Oklahoma City for this important addition to the Civic Center.”

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