COLUMBUS (WCMH) — The Ohio Theatre in downtown Columbus is getting a makeover.
Renovations to the 93-year-old historic structure commenced in February and are set to be completed mid-May.
Media cameras were invited in for a glimpse of the improvements being made to the architectural icon that is also one of the busiest performing arts facilities in the state.
“Live shows are the primary offering with the Columbus Symphony, the ballet, Broadway touring shows, a one-night music concert,” said Jason Gay, Columbus Association for the Performing Arts (CAPA) VP of Operations.
Most live performances have been put on hold during the pandemic, so CAPA felt now would be the perfect time to renovate the historic theatre.
“This is what I would consider a bright spot,” Gay said. “We were already essentially closed, just doing really sporadic events.”
Thanks to state funding and donations, CAPA began constriction on the improvements to make guests feel safer.
“Previously people walking through the balcony felt like they were falling towards the stage, so we’ve taken time to level out the floor,” Gay said.
Along with leveling out the floor, they have installed new handrails in the mezzanine and balcony sections, reconstructed the steps in the loge seating area, and added new carpet. All of the improvements have been made while maintaining the facility’s historic charm.
“We’ve achieved that balance with this renovation so when you walk in as an audience member, it should look and feel exactly the same, just safer,” Gay said.
The Ohio Theatre opening in 1928 as a movie house showing films six days a week. The construction workers were reminded of the theatre’s past when they dug up the seats.
“We find old candy wrappers, so candy wrappers from the 40’s and the 50’s that had fallen under the seats,” Gay said.
CAPA still plans to hold its summer film series at the Ohio Theatre with a limited audience, and organizers look forward to the day guests can fill the house again.
“We are so ready to bring people back into our buildings when the time is right,” Gay said.
For more information on the summer film series, visit CAPA’s website.