By Emily Aamodt, Current Staff
After a year of planning and construction through the cold Wisconsin winter, the new high school auditorium is up and ready.
Everything has been remodeled, including the chairs, house lighting, stage, control room and dressing room.
Dave Ross, the district’s director of facilities and operations, put the old burgundy chairs to rest. The new, sleek gray ones fit a modern style, and they are disability-friendly. “The seats are a little taller, padding is a little bit better, and the handicap seats can swing out into the aisle,” Ross said.
As for the lights, they’ve all been upgraded to LED lights. “It saves energy and they last 20 years,” Ross said.
When it comes to the stage, Ross said, “The floors were completely re-finished, curtain rigs were replaced, and a new spiral staircase was added.” To the dismay of many high schoolers, you have to be at least 18 to go up and down the spiral stairs, but it’s something to dream for.
The control room, once right above the stage, is now directly across from it. “The auditorium technician can actually know what’s going on and not be so far away,” Ross said.
The dressing room has been revamped as well, with lightbulbs surrounding the mirrors, brightly welcoming generations of actors to come. Ross said, “A unisex bathroom was put in, with a shower, and the TV watching the stage was rewired.”
Because of the renovations, the stage can now better serve the students and staff of West Bend High Schools.
The first-class performing arts center will benefit both community members and students, Ross said. The updates changed the 44-year-old auditorium from a standard high school stage to a modern public venue. The West Bend Public Schools Foundation shepherded the project.
(Additional reporting by Mike Smale, Current Staff. Photographs by Emily Aamodt, Current Staff.)