Richmond's CenterStage weeks away from grand opening

By Matt Butner - bio | email
Posted by Terry Alexander - email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - It's been eight years and 73 million dollars in the making, and now Richmond Center Stage is just weeks away from its grand opening. The performing arts center will be home to nine different groups - from the Richmond Ballet to the Elegba Folklore Society.

"As soon as you walk in, you'll be awestruck," said Jay Smith, CenterStage Spokesperson.

To say that the Carpenter Theater has been restored to its former glory may be an understatement. But all the updates and improvements were made with an eye to the past, starting with the paint job.

"It was like a mini archaeological dig, to take paint experts and historians who would chip down layer by layer to get back to the original color," said Jay. "It was painstaking, tedious work but the detail and the craftsmanship just pops as soon as you walk in here."

And once you find your seat, you might appreciate the increased leg room and padding in the chair backs. Another modern touch - computer software and speakers to fine-tune the acoustics for different types of performances.

"It really will enable the orchestra to expand our quality, because when you're in the same acoustic environment all the time you get used to playing together in that same environment," said Laura Adams, Richmond Symphony.

Getting to this point has been far from easy. Since the idea of CenterStage was introduced in 2001, there have been frequent debates over the scope, scale, and funding of the project.

Despite all that, the work forges ahead, inching toward opening day on September 12. Many have high hopes that the project will become a focal point for Richmond.

"It's really a cultural center for the city," said Laura.

"Really Broad Street Corridor is going to be thriving again, and we're just excited to be in the middle of it and be a part of that," Jay said.

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