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BWW Feature: Renovations at Historic Holly Theatre

Nathan Gerrells, Artistic Director shares the Historic Holly Theatre's renovation plans and vision for the future.

BWW Feature: Renovations at Historic Holly Theatre

The Holly Theater is taking advantage of our Covid shutdown to complete some much needed renovations to our stage. For years, the Holly Board of Directors have been planning and fundraising to "Elevate" the performance capacity of the Holly by installing a fly system. As a historic movie house built in 1948, we first had to overcome major infrastructure challenges before the fly system mechanics could be installed. We have worked with architect Jeff Crocker and BCA Studios out of Gainesville to design a new, flexible performance space with the capacity to grow our fly system capabilities in the future.

When we reopen in the fall, audiences will enjoy some changes to the stage, though many of the improvements won't be necessarily visible. We have replaced the ceiling support structure above the stage with a new steel grid to support a new curtain and fly system. We will have a rebuilt stage that maximizes space and creates a flexible, blank canvas for set designers to work with. We will have new curtains including a dramatic new main drape which will match as closely as possible the original 1948 main drape. And, we will have the capacity to raise and lower scenery through a fly system hoist. Most importantly, we will have created an infrastructure which will allow for future installations of more fly hoists.
After demolition of the stage was complete, we were thrilled to get a peek into history and invite the public to see the original 1948 stage from when the Holly was a movie house. This stage will remain intact as we rebuild our new stage on top.
Artistically, we are very excited! The challenge of performing on the Holly's stage has always been space. We have very little backstage and wing space which means that set designers have been limited and had to get very creative with how we use the space. The only way to "grow" our space was to look up! Having a fly system will allow our set designers another layer of flexibility when designing sets and offer some new dramatic elements that our audiences will love.
We are so lucky to have funded this project through a series of grants and donations from our generous patrons. Ivana Pelnar-Zaiko and Bud Stumbaugh have worked tirelessly over the last year to get the project funded. We still have a little ways to go, and of course have a wish list of future projects, we are always taking donations for our capital improvement. If you wish to donate, you can do so online or reach out to us at the theater.

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