As the Imperial Theatre heads into its centennial year in 2018, the theater has shut its door for a couple of months to complete some upgrades to its electrical and mechanical systems and do some cosmetic work.
The theater closed June 5 and will reopen Aug. 5.
Over the years, there’s been various electrical work done in the building, according to Charles Scavullo, executive director.
“We’re doing an electrical overhaul,” he said. “We’re replacing electrical work from 100 years ago, the ’30s and the ’50s and the 1980s.”
Some of the electrical work includes Georgia Power running new underground lines.
“We’ll go from four electric meters to two,” he said.
Plus, there are upgrades coming to the HVAC system with new units going in.
Much of the work on the theater during the past few years has been to the infrastructure and while there are cosmetics that need to be taken care of, the infrastructure has been the priority.
With projects like roof leaks and drainage issues resolved, beautifying the building is on the agenda. Painters set up scaffolding July 6 to begin painting of the barrel ceilings and some plaster work. Scavullo said he knew there was ornate stenciling at one time on the ceilings; however, it had been obscured by layers of paint. He’d contacted other historic theaters and even did an internet search to find out what the stencils might have looked like.
However, the problem was solved when painters scraped off some of the plaster to uncover vestiges of a bell and flower stencil pattern. Scavullo has enlisted the help of a couple of area artists to create a template for the stencils, which will be returned to the barrel values. Parts of the ceiling are painted a light blue, and this will be replaced with a maple color. Fresh coats of paint are all around the building. The dressing rooms were getting a few new coats as well.
And members of the Rotary Club of Augusta painted the former Western Union space on the second floor above the box office and entrance. The space is used as overflow dressing rooms with organizations such as The Augusta Players, Columbia County Ballet and Colton Ballet as frequent users of it.
Another stairwell will be added to the exterior of the Imperial leading to an upstairs door.
Scavullo said that area has a lot of potential such as being used as a blackbox theater, rehearsal hall or an area for business functions.
Windows line the front of the room just above the Imperial marquee, which also has a set of flood lights. He said it provides an incredible view at night.
There are numerous other projects that are on Scavullo’s wishlist. There’s additional plaster work and painting to be completed in the theater and there’s the theater’s pipe organ, which has hundreds of pieces in storage in the former Western Union space.
While the seating in the orchestra section of the Imperial was replaced nearly two decades ago, the seats in the upper levels could use reupholstering, he said.
Scavullo said plans are underway to mark the Imperial’s centennial with special events once a quarter.
The Imperial will reopen on Aug. 5 with a performance of He Say, She Say: The Unspoken Conversation. Find more about the theater performance and upcoming events at imperialtheatre.com.