W . H
. A U D I T O R I U M P
I C T U R E S T O
R Y : R E A D Y
F O R I T S C L O S E - U P !
the project finish
in time? Yup! "Curtain going up" happened on time/on budget
- first redo of this space
in 40 years! Timing is everything!
a difference a few days makes!!! Read about WHS mural project
here. WestonArts spreads its wings!!!
"Hello, Dolly, well hello Dolly, it's
so nice to have you back where you belong..." could have been
written about the Auditorium itself!!!
Weston High School
auditorium: Curtain goes
Written by Kimberly Donnelly
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
When the curtain went up at the Weston High School auditorium on
Tuesday night, Dec. 9, it was the end of an era — and the beginning of
a new performing arts space in town. The grand opening of the
refurbished 600-seat auditorium marked the completion of the last piece
of an $80-million school and athletic facilities building project that
was approved by voters in 2001.
“I think it’s fabulous. We’ve got a first class facility,” said Weston
First Selectman Woody Bliss. Work
on the 1960s-built auditorium, which
started at the beginning of the summer, included gutting most of the
space, adding air conditioning, duct work, replacing antiquated
rigging, lighting work, refurbishing sound and lighting control rooms,
rebuilding the orchestra pit, adding acoustical ceiling and wall
panels, and stage floor and carpet replacement.
WestonArts, a non-profit group, raised more than $300,000 in private
funds to help supplement the costs of the approximately $2.1-million
auditorium project, specifically to replace the seats.
“WestonArts board members are overjoyed with the unveiling of the
renovation of the Weston High School auditorium,” said Johanna Pfund,
co-chairman of WestonArts. “The refurbished auditorium provides the
citizens of Weston with an up-to-date performing arts space that
supports the educational requirements of the schools’ outstanding
performing arts programs, as well as an attractive and functional
facility for town meetings.”
WestonArts formed in June 2005 to develop and promote the arts in
Weston. Its impetus, however, was really the discovery by many arts
lovers and parents that renovation of the high school auditorium was
not included in the original school building project.
WestonArts has become for the school arts program what the Boosters
Club is for school athletics — both a champion of arts programs in the
community and a fund-raising organization.
And organize they have. In the three-plus years since its inception,
WestonArts has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars. The group has
donated money for scholarships, grants, and equipment for the schools,
such as a grand piano, and music and instrument storage.
But the completion of a refurbished auditorium has always been at the
top of the group’s agenda.
Ms. Pfund said WestonArts “started out thinking we could do it all,”
but members quickly realized it would take the entire community to make
the project a reality. It was WestonArts’ pledge to raise the money to
replace the auditorium’s aging seats that convinced many in town to
allocate the rest of the money to re-do the space.
By April 2008, the group met its goal of raising $300,000 in a “seat
campaign,” money earmarked to replace the auditorium seats.
“During the past three years, WestonArts has come to understand what an
undertaking it is to bring a project such as the auditorium renovation
to fruition, and it could never have happened without the undying
support of the Board of Education, the Board of Selectmen, the
dedicated Building Committee, generous donors, and the citizens of
Weston who said ‘yes’ to a renovation in not just one, but two separate
town meetings,” Ms. Pfund said.
Middle school bids too high
Refurbishing the high school auditorium was not originally a part of
the building project. However, when bids for a planned new auditorium
at Weston Middle School came in millions of dollars more than expected,
the focus shifted to making improvements to the existing high school
performance space instead.
In addition to the money raised by WestonArts, the money to pay for the
project comes from several different sources. Money that was originally
bonded to build the middle school auditorium was “transferred” to pay
for the high school roof replacement and auditorium renovation.
After the roof was completed, about $1.2 million was left to apply
toward the auditorium; at a special town meeting June 11 of this year,
voters approved an additional $586,585 appropriation from the general
fund; and there was money left in a capital account for the roof
replacement that was applied toward the auditorium.
Ms. Pfund credits the Building Committee, which has overseen the
auditorium project from day one, with its ultimate success.
The Building Committee “has had such dedication to the project,
[WestonArts] really just kept our eye on the ball,” Ms. Pfund said.
“They are the unsung heroes of this town... without them, this wouldn’t
Joe Fitzpatrick, chairman of the Building Committee, returned the
“This was a real collaboration of many groups,” he said, especially
singling out WestonArts. “If they didn’t step up to the plate, this
whole thing wouldn’t have happened. It just shows that, when we all
work together, and everyone cooperates, we can get things done wth very
little fuss or problems.”
Mr. Fitzpatrick said the most challenging aspect of the auditorium
project was keeping track of the “long-lead” items, things that had to
be planned and designed and ordered well in advance, such as the
rigging, the stage extension, curtain, and the seat fabric.
“It was important to get these things done early,” Mr. Fitzpatrick
said, adding that when it came down to the wire, the contractors — and
there were several — stepped up to the plate and made it happen.
“Everybody’s been waiting a long time for this,” Mr. Fitzpatrick said.
“I’m sure they’ll be happy with it.”
For Ms. Pfund, the auditorium is just right.
“It’s beautiful, but it’s not an extravagant, costly place. It’s really
appropriate. It needed to be taken care of,” Ms. Pfund said. “The
original idea was to build a new performing arts center at the middle
school, but this solution was really most cost effective for the town.
We took a facility we already had and made it much more functional and
it also looks better. Every one should be really proud.”
BUILDING COMMITTEE MEETING
2008: Will the concert take place at the auditorium in less than
a week? Take our tour below!
AT TOWN HALL...AND
ENDS UP AT
WESTON HIGH SCHOOL - "ABOUT TOWN" CAMERAPHONE PIX !
2008: HOW IS THE PROJECT DOING?
is getting pretty exciting seeing the progress on the auditorium redo
project! From the stage and its new rigging to the exit
doors, to the wood panel walls now blonde...
the auditorium and the two lighting booths, and the inevitable junk
that a construction site creates. Wheelbarrow evidence that lots
of work is going on!
the stars - note the area where decorative lighting will be added last
or almost last...Building
Committee members check things out on stage.
TOWN" MEETING NOTES HERE.
New rigging and control rooms have been installed in the auditorium at
Weston High School, which still awaits seating, acoustical panels and
flooring. Construction is expected to be completed by the end of
November. —Kimberly Donnelly photo
Weston auditorium work is on
Written by Kimberly Donnelly
Thursday, October 23, 2008
Right now, Weston High School’s theater space is pretty much just that
But, said Joe Fitzpatrick, chairman of the Building Committee
overseeing the high school auditorium renovation, everything is on
track to be completed before the holidays.
“We’re pushing to get it done by the end of November,” Mr. Fitzpatrick
said last week.
The auditorium is essentially empty (no seats, carpet, ceiling tiles,
wall coverings, and not much of a stage), but looks can be deceiving,
Mr. Fitzpatrick said.
“They’ve gotten an incredible amount of work done,” he said of the
The electrical rigging used to move sets on stage, which replaces an
old weight/counterweight rigging system, has been installed. School
staff was being trained in its use last week.
Lighting and sound control rooms at the back of the auditorium are
finished, air conditioning has been installed, and duct work and the
mechanical systems are complete.
Wall panels have been affixed to the sides of the room, which are ready
to accept acoustical treatments that will capture and dampen sound. “At
the appropriate time, we can just stick the panels on,” Mr. Fitzpatrick
Trim work on the front of the stage began last week. The floor of the
stage will be put down last, after most of the other work — especially
overhead work — is done.
The old seats have been removed and new seating is supposed to arrive
at the end of this month, Mr. Fitzpatrick said.
“There have been no major hang-ups,” Mr. Fitzpatrick said. “We’re still
within budget, and we’ve had no issues with noise or dust ... These
guys have been great.”
2008 MEETING MOVED TO TOWN HALL COMMISSION ROOM: AT THIS
POINT, IT IS NOT SAFE TO HOLD MEETINGS ON THE STAGE, BECAUSE RIGGING IS
GOING IN, LIGHTING FOR SEATS,, NEW FABRIC ON ORDER, ETC. - AND ROOF
ADJUSTMENT TO BE DONE, IT WAS NOTED, MUST HAVE OK OF
SILKTOWN/MANUFACTURER TO NOT VIOLATE WHS NEW ROOF GUARANTEE. See
regular building committee page for meeting notes.
Building/School Building Committee
meeting September 17, 2008 began
by having to find a way into the high
Soccer game going on
under the lights (and the lights
along School Road as designed by the School Building Committee work and
do their job beautifully)!
It pretty much looked the same as
last meeting, but contracts have been
finalized for rigging, chair detail (to be double checked) and report
on change orders so far (keeping a close eye on these);
architects consulting on shade
later, design/functional detail
choice made preliminarily. Next
meeting on October 1st.
Building Committee special
meeting September 3, 2008...
All the actors in this drama
on stage: the Building/School
Building Committee; architect, engineer, auditorium design
specialists and construction manager - Town Administrator on top of
things, taking notes, Weston Arts "in the audience" (and "About Town"
taking the pictures).
The history of Company and the
students and productions recorded
on the backstage walls - remember the car from "Grease?" I thinks
is was the winner of the prize for "Best Float" in the Memorial Day
NO SEATING YET - PICTURE 599 RED
In this sketch you can see
the two control booths in the rear,
new baseboards for floor and THE PLAN!
Building/School Building Committee special
meeting August 27, 2008:
Some missing answers to
questions about deadlines, which are to be
supplied in another special meeting next week...