By Mike Smale, Current Staff
Right now, one of the nation’s premier orchestras is scheduled to play at a construction site.
The Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra is going to perform at the WBHS auditorium on Dec. 9, according to school principal Bill Greymont. But with only a few weeks left to meet that date, the auditorium renovation project is heading for a photo finish.
“It will be down to the wire,” said Dave Ross, director of facilities. “Currently the auditorium is a full-blown construction site.”
The project is on schedule, according to Ross. In the mess of this construction, new wood panels are being put in, the final chairs are being mounted, painting is nearing completion, and the carpet should be installed by the end of next week. There is still work to be done, such as much of the wiring, but Ross feels confident that construction will be complete by the deadline.
Unforeseen problems could emerge, causing the project to fall behind and miss its due date. But if the project does fail to meet the deadline, the show must go on. Some unnecessary things, such as the orchestra pit cover, would have to remain unfinished for the show and be completed at a later date.
“It’s a little like the Silverbrook project,” Ross said. “A thousand kids were going to show up for the first day of school and we had to have it open. That meant not every little thing will be done.”
But Ross has history on his side. When the auditorium was being built in the 1970s, the project was behind schedule. As the opening performance, just like today, the MSO was scheduled to play, and people were worried that the auditorium wouldn’t be done on time. With no seats, they worried that there would be no concert.
“Well, they made it and we’ll make it too,” Ross said. “Some things never change.”
Thanks to the project, the West Bend area will receive a first-class performing arts center that will benefit both community members and students, Ross said. The updates will change the 44-year-old auditorium from a standard high school stage to a modern public venue. The West Bend Public Schools Foundation has shepherded the project.
The MSO performance, which is a fundraiser for a local scholarship program, will be the first live show in the new arts center. Tickets are on sale for $20, and can be purchased at area BMO, Horicon, National Exchange, and Westbury banks, as well as Jeff’s Spirits on Main. Soon after, the center will host “A Christmas Portrait,” on Dec. 14. This feature will include a performance from high school students, as well as pictures with Santa, Rudolph, and Frosty. Tickets are $10 for adults and can be bought at Westbury Bank, Piggly Wiggly, and Dunn Bros Coffee.
Learn more about the auditorium renovation here.
(Photos by Alex Kopish, Editor in Chief.)