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Monday, October 25, 2004

Bigger than Opera 

But never mind about the Opera, the really big news on Thursday night was the display in the lobby of the Queen Elizabeth Theatre, explaining their massive renovation plans.

Good. The QE is a big nasty barn, somewhat pretty to look at from the outside, but ridden with hordes of distant or off-angle seats, and merely adequate acoustics. Its only merit as a venue, to my mind, is its size, just under 3000 seats in a typical configuration.

The renovation will narrow and dramatically shorten the seating area. The rear wall will be 40 feet closer to the stage. Seating numbers will be maintained by adding two more balconies and box-style seating along the sides. They expect big acoustic improvements as a result, and the extra space from moving the back wall will be turned into extra lobby space and bathrooms, which are direly needed. Amazingly, the redevelopment team claims the work will be done in two summer closures, without affecting the performance season. Impressive.

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