theatre  

Renovations to Neptune Theatre complete after almost two years

Lobby, stages, lounge and refreshment area all see updates

The Fountain Hall stage, taken from the balcony during construction.   Neptune Theatre

Neptune Theatre’s Fountain Hall and Scotiabank stages have been renovated to enhance the experiences of the audience and performers. 

“It’s a beautiful spot. It always was, now it’s just been updated,” said Jeremy Webb, artistic director for Neptune Theatre.

The last time Neptune went through any major updates was about 20 years ago, said Webb. Technology ages, as do audience spaces, meaning updates are necessary. The renovations were finished late last year.

The lower lobby is shown during renovations.   Neptune Theatre

Plans for the renovations, which cost $5.3 million and took about two years, started several years ago. The theatre’s main light and sound technology began failing and critical infrastructure needed to be replaced.

Webb said theatres get so much use; wear and tear comes with the territory.

“If you think of a run like the show Mamma Mia we have coming up, there will be essentially 500 people in this building, in that room alone, every night, eight shows a week,” said Webb. “Imagine a piece of carpet, or a staircase, getting 500 sets of feet in various directions every single night.”

The renovations were done in two stages so Neptune could stay open throughout the process.

In the summer of 2016, construction started on the smaller of the two theatres, the Scotiabank Stage. New sound and lighting equipment was installed, a new lounge was added and audience seats were made to have more space. 

“Twenty years ago, people thought the seats we had were really comfortable, but people change,” said Webb.

New seats installed in the Fountain Hall theatre.   Neptune Theatre

In May 2017, the sound and lighting technologies in Fountain Hall, the main stage area, were updated. A new proscenium, which is the front area of the stage where sound and lighting equipment, was installed, as was a new sprung stage floor.

“For musicals (the stage) actually gives a little, so dancers don’t land on a solid floor. It’s much healthier for them,” said Webb.

Jeremy Webb, artistic director of Neptune Theatre.   Hannah Daley

The Fountain Hall theatre also received more spacious audience seating, with an updated layout to ensure that the same number of seats, about 480, remained. The new seats are bigger by about six inches all around.

The bars and lobbies for both theatres were redone as well. An underused balcony was made into an atrium area to be used during breaks and before and after shows.

Most of the renovations won’t be outright visible to the audience, but they’ll likely notice an improved show and experience quality, said Webb.

So far, Webb said, feedback has been positive.

“At the end of the day, the audience are more interested in what’s going on the stage because they love theatre and they want to be entertained,” said Webb. “If they’re getting a comfortable and inviting environment to do that in, they’re happy.”