Historic Little Theatre Renovations Include New Seats, Improved Stage, and More

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Historic Little Theatre Renovations Include New Seats, Improved Stage, and More

UPDATE: Theater 1 will reopen Oct. 25. Showtimes available on our homepage.

Renovations to The Little’s historic theater 1 will include new seats, an improved stage, new lighting, and more.

Theater 1 (240 East Ave.) is expected to be closed Wednesday, May 28 to October, 2018 for renovations. The Little’s additional four theaters will continue to screen independent plus foreign language films, and host popular series such as One Take: Stories Through The Lens, Saturday Night Rewind, and The Black Cinema Series. Additionally, The Little Café will remain open during this time for live music with no cover charge, monthly new art exhibits, along with food and drinks.

These historic renovations for the theater -- which opened in October 1929 -- were announced Thursday, March 15 during the launch of the Little Big Picture Campaign. The goal of this campaign is to match funds already committed through the Regional Economic Development Council to upgrade and rehabilitate The Little to its original iconic state. A total of $1 million is required to match these funds. $300,000 has already been raised toward this goal. The target date to have all pledges secure is October 31, 2018. To donate email [email protected] or call our membership coordinator at 585-258-0262.

Renovation details: The project, designed by Bero Architecture PLLC, will upgrade theater 1 by making historically appropriate capital improvements, upgraded mechanical systems, and rehabilitation of historically sensitive features. Changes to the auditorium part of the theater will be made during the May 30 to September 30 timeframe. Other renovations to the building are planned to begin in 2019. These are tentative plans, and things may be adjusted in the future.

- Replacement of theater seating that matches the style of the original 1929 seats, plus cup holders, and general theater rehabilitation. This includes fire safety fixtures, repair of associated building structure, including Americans with Disability Act (ADA) compliance, along with side/rear entrance improvements.

-Installation of a fixed stage that will support a range of performance options coordinated with accessible rear and side access, enclosure, and development of a west side gallery, and repair of associated building structure, including ADA compliance.

-Major technology improvements for ease of access for artists, options for recording live events, energy-efficient LED lighting system, new projection and Dolby 7.1 equipment to keep our theater at the cutting edge of movie presentation.

-The next phase (these changes will NOT take place during the May 30 to October 2018 timeframe. They’re scheduled for 2019): Modifying the lobby expanding into the side storefronts to improve ticket queueing, provide an improved concessions area in the east storefront, repurpose the inner lobby as a lounge, repair of building structure, rehabilitation of primary facade elements including ADA compliance and egress improvements. There will also be an installation of a “lula” elevator for access to all three floors of the building. The kitchen area will be renovated, two green rooms will be built, plus an ADA accessible third floor restroom will be added (The Little Business Office is on the third floor).

Renovations in other theaters: Theaters 4 and 5 (entrance located off of Winthrop Street) are also receiving much-needed renovations coming in the next few weeks. The improved look includes new seats in theater 5, plus the addition of a hearing loop, ADA compliant seating, aisle lights, and more. The tentative closing schedule for theater 5 will be Tuesday, March 20 to Thursday, March 29, 2018.

Theater 4 will tentatively be closed Monday, March 26 to Wednesday, March 28, 2018 for the addition of a hearing loop. Specifically, this is a wire that circles the room, and is connected to a sound system. The loop transmits sound electromagnetically and that electromagnetic signal is picked up by the telecoil in hearing aids. To use the hearing loop, the user can flip on the t-switch on her/his hearing aid.Grant

Grant breakdown: From 2012 to 2018, The Little has received just over 1.2 million in state grants. Thanks to generous donations from individuals and foundations, we have raised about 1.2 million for renovations. To match the grants, an additional total of $1 million needed to be raised. That total is now down to $700,000. 

These funds have gone toward refurbishments that are part of a six-year effort to improve the entire Little Theatre complex while retaining the historical elements that make the theater a staple in the Rochester community.

Improvements include the renovation of the famous Little Marquee in June 2017. Other additions include: Digital projection equipment in all five theaters, a refurbished 35-millimeter projector to show archival films, hearing loops, new seating, and upgraded restroom facilities.