To answer the burning question on many Mount Greylock community members’ minds: the auditorium is anticipated to open in November. However, the date has not been set in stone: lots has to be done before the auditorium can officially reopen. Principal Mary MacDonald explains, “the space itself is ready but the lighting and sound situation still needs work. It’s better to be fully prepared so the audience’s focus is entirely on the performance.” MacDonald, among others, have decided that it is better to be fully ready for a performance than to have everything be only half done. To make sure that the audience gets the best experience, the Get Acquainted concert will be held at Chapin Hall and the school is currently working with Shakespeare and Company to reserve another date for the performance so it can be held in the new Mount Greylock auditorium.
Despite popular belief, the auditorium was not the first part of the school to be shut down for renovations. In fact, it was closed for other reasons. Because the room did not contain sprinklers in case of a fire, a fire curtain was hung to meet ADA codes. However, the auditorium was forced to be closed down after the fire curtain failed to work due to the age of the equipment. On top of this, the stage needs to be accessible for the audience to be ADA compliant, which it was not at the time. These various issues meant that the room was not up to code and therefore had to be shut down. It takes longer to renovate a space than to completely rebuild, explaining why the auditorium ultimately took more time than the rest of the school.
Before the auditorium officially opens in November, there is still much to do. For example, the rigging for lighting both above the stage and in front needs to be put in, as well as most of the acoustic and side fabric panels. To be ADA compliant, a lift from the floor to the stage also needs to be positioned. The stage itself is ready, but the curtain still must be hung. The seats have been ordered, but have not yet come in. The seat material will be a maroon red to illustrate school spirit color-wise, while the wood for the theater itself will be dark ebony. The dark colors will also help in the school’s mission to target the audience’s attention solely on watching the performers. “The experience in the ‘62 center is with light wood. The subcommittee [for the auditorium] wanted dark colors so the audience’s attention is on stage,” MacDonald comments. Dark colors for the theater have also been the result of speaking with a consultant and conferring with performing arts specialists such as orchestra director Ouisa Fohrhaltz, band director Lyndon Moors, and musical director Jeffrey Welch, as well as several other community members with experience concerning performing arts.
Both theater productions and concerts as well as events like the eighth grade debates will be held in the new auditorium. The new meeting room is considerably smaller than the old meeting room with a maximum capacity of 80-100 people, so for large grades, such as the new seventh grade, class meetings are also anticipated to be held in the auditorium. This also goes for exclusively middle school and exclusively high school meetings. The auditorium will have a maximum capacity of 400, so a few grades at a time will be able to fit in it. The auditorium will not have 400 seats, but it will be open to the cafeteria to provide extra seating, making the cafeteria into an anteroom. According to MacDonald, “we’ll be able to move into being a gallery show and we will be able to foster visual and performing arts overflow, as we can live feed the performance into the cafeteria.”
The new auditorium will be built fully up to code, making it more fire-safe and accessible to everyone. The lighting and sound systems will now be digital and the lights will be new and improved with recent technology. Anticipated in November along with the auditorium will be practice rooms for band and orchestra students as well as dressing rooms.
MacDonald notes that Greylock has been lucky during the auditorium’s renovation, as performances and concerts during the building project have been able to go on at different locations around the community. “We remain grateful to Williamstown Elementary, Lanesborough Elementary, and Williams College who hosted performances over the years. Had it not been for them, the programs would have suffered,” MacDonald says.