I am Producer of the Merry-Go-Round Playhouse and serve as Producing Artistic Director of the Musical Theatre Festival.
I have received calls from many who were interested in my opinion about a letter written by Peter Ruzicka which appeared on April 29.
At this very moment I should be getting ready to direct the first show of our summer season but I have received so many inquiries about “that letter” that I wasn’t getting much work done anyway, so here goes.
Last fall Festival Managing Director Michael Chamberlain and I held a meeting with Mr. Ruzicka to discuss his concerns.
At the conclusion of the meeting I suggested to Mr. Ruzicka that he take a tour of the Schine’s and offered to accompany him. Had we taken that tour I could have explained a few things:
• Since the Schine’s was built as a movie theater it has no flying system to bring in scenery, which is a must.
• The ceiling over the stage is not high enough to house such a system and would have to be raised.
• There is no space for a loading dock to bring in the large sets called for in a 1700+ seat house.
• The stage itself is not deep enough, has almost no wing space and must be expanded.
• There is also at this time no orchestra pit and that would certainly be necessary.
The reason I mention all of this is that no where are the costs for these changes reflected in Mr. Ruzicka’s estimate of $5,175,000 and there is much more missing:
• A massive sound system would have to be installed to serve such a large space.
• An equally large and complicated lighting and lighting controls would have to be installed.
• Dressing rooms would need to be renovated and expanded to support casts of over 30.
• Minimum additional 10 percent of project cost for architectural services.
During early 2007 at meetings with representatives of the Arts Council and their architect, an estimate of $12.5 million for a renovation that included the above items was developed.
All of us look forward to the day when the Schine’s is fully restored and applaud the Herculean efforts of the Cayuga County Arts Council to keep the dream alive. But $12.5 million would cost more then we have budgeted to start the entire Festival and it is simply beyond our means.