by: Julia Schettler ‘ 18, staff writer
Quite a few buildings in Bethel, Conn., have used the name of “Bethel High School” in the 67 years since its official founding in 1939. From the building on School Street, now the Town Hall, to the 1970s building that still holds the name today, and even the original building on South Street from the 19th century, Bethel High has certainly moved around quite a bit In 2009, the latest building to hold the title, built in 1970, underwent renovations which added a new science wing, music wing, gymnasium, weight room and other facilities. However, the auditorium was left out of these upgrades, and now, in 2016, it is finally time for the outdated auditorium to be renovated.
According to Bethel High School’s principal, Christopher Troetti, the plans for the new auditorium have been in the works since the renovations in 2009. While other parts of the school were updated first, Principal Troetti says the auditorium is about to have a full renovation, including new seats, new lights, a renovated stage, new carpet and a fresh coat of paint. Principal Troetti seemed very excited about the new auditorium, mentioning that renovating it is one of his main goals as principal. “We’ve been doing this for the last five years, so this is my fifth year as principal, and one of my major priorities is to get to the auditorium. You know we have such great productions, we want to get the auditorium to the best it can possibly be so our kids can do the things that they want to do with the best equipment…” Principal Troetti notes.
The main reason for the renovation of the auditorium is to improve not only the quality of the shows put on by Bethel students, but also to improve the quality of the experience audiences’ have while in the auditorium. While the entire school is up to modern standards, no aspect of the auditorium is, from the lighting equipment and the stage to the carpeting, paint and old seats.
“We’ve actually been working on renovating the auditorium since the renovation project was completed in 2009. That was the only place in the entire school building that wasn’t touched by the renovation except for sprinklers, so we knew we had to do work on the stage, we had to work on the sound system, we had to do work on the lighting, and most importantly, we had to come up with a plan to replace the seats” Principal Troetti explained. The auditorium will clearly be renovated to the best of the school’s ability.
Catherine Galliford ’18, the assistant stage manager for the musicals at Bethel High mentioned how the new renovations in the auditorium will positively affect her and the rest of the stage crew.
“I feel like overall we’re going to be better equipped and [more] motivated with a new, nicer auditorium, and also, it’ll give us the feeling the school [cares] about [the fine arts department].” Galliford mentioned.
Despite the feeling of neglect felt by many music and art students at Bethel High, the new auditorium, as well as the music wing added in 2009, have helped this situation. The renovated auditorium will help the stage crew with issues they faced in the past, such as faulty lights malfunctioning during shows, and the old stage, where splinters and chipping wood affect the flow of wheeled props on and off the stage. The new renovations will create a safer work environment for the stage crew, who create props and set pieces for the musicals each year, as well as move heavy backdrops.
“Something that’s always been a concern in stage crew is that the stage is kind of old and very susceptible [to damage] … once the stage is hopefully presumably fixed, that’s going to be less of a concern for stage crew, and it just is going to be a more updated, workable environment for us, it’s going to be a safer environment for us, it’s going to be better for the cast, and it’s also going to eliminate any tension that there would have been between cast and crew over the state of the stage” adds Galliford.
The cast of these yearly musicals will also reap the benefits of the new auditorium. Junior Madison Spremulli, a cast member of Bethel High School’s productions of “Zombie Prom” and “Mary Poppins”, in 2015 and 2016 respectively, also remarked on the positive effects the new renovations will have on the musicals and their participants.
“I think a renovated auditorium will increase the ticket sales because better, more comfortable seating and an overall better appearance will appeal to an audience member more and make them more likely to come see a show. Also the renovations will give our shows more of a professional feel, which again can help boost ticket sales. Having the auditorium renovated will makes the lives of the cast, the crew, and the directors of the musical much easier” explains Spremulli.
The renovations will also solve technical problems for the cast, as Spremulli recalls an instance during Zombie Prom rehearsals in which she and other cast members had splinters every day after practicing a scene in which they had to lie on the floor. She also notes how stage directions would sometimes have to alter from the original plan in order to avoid complications with the rough condition of the stage.
The renovations, which are expected to be finished around the end of January 2017, are certainly highly anticipated upgrades for the cast, and crew of the musicals, as well as the administration of Bethel High School. It seems that the renovations may be worth the seven year wait for everyone involved with the auditorium, whether they are sitting in the audience or waiting in the wings.