HAMLET — The show must go on. And it will, according to Cole Auditorium Director Joey Bennett, who has been eager for renovations to the auditorium to wrap up in time for the first show of the 2017-18 DeWitt Performing Arts Series.
The auditorium suffered major water damage this summer when a pipe burst in the facility on June 25. More than 200,000 gallons of water filled the auditorium and backstage, turning the orchestra pit into a lap pool and submerging four rows of cushioned seats.
“We had to completely replace the wooden stage floor and rebuild the orchestra pit cover, re-cushion, re-upholster and repaint the affected rows, and replace a section of carpeting,” Bennett said. “Luckily, this happened at a time of year when we don’t have a lot of events scheduled that require use of the auditorium. We also appreciate Hawks Builders working us into their busy schedule and making sure these repairs got done before our show season started.”
The water damage was mostly contained to the lower auditorium with the dressing rooms and dressing room hallway requiring some minimal repairs. Hayden Construction responded quickly to the emergency situation and worked diligently to get the water and moisture out of the facility, immediately removing damaged Sheetrock, flooring, and insulation before any additional problems could arise.
The facility was able to reopen within two weeks of the incident, while repairs to the auditorium got underway.
Three-time Grammy Award winner Debby Boone will be the first performer to grace the new stage in the Cole on Sept. 19. The “You Light Up My Life” singer was a huge hit for the DeWitt Series when she performed at the Cole Auditorium in 2011, and organizer’s say this year’s performance is sure to be another crowd pleaser.
“We are relieved to be able to schedule and complete the renovations without it affecting our Performing Arts Season,” Bennett said. “We were able to secure a contractor and vendors who were able to assure the administration that they could meet our deadlines.
“After having spent 16 years roaming the halls of the facility, the past two plus months have been a real mix of heartbreak, stress, nervousness and excitement for me personally, as it has been for all of the Cole staff,” Bennett added. “I am so happy with the upgrades and the outcome of the renovations. The community has been incredibly understanding about the challenges we have been facing, and the contractors and workers on the job have been motivated to bring the Cole back to its former glory.”
For ticket information for the Debby Boone show on Sept. 19 at 7:30 p.m., contact the Cole Auditorium Box Office at 910-410-1691. Box Office hours are Monday through Thursday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Information is also available on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
A full season brochure can be viewed on the auditorium’s website at http://www.richmondcc.edu/cole-auditorium.