Lifestyles Theater

Imperial Theatre sees plaster work and new paint this summer

When patrons return to the Imperial Theatre in August after its summer hiatus, they’ll see a fresh look around the stage area.

For now, the seats are covered with plastic as scaffolding fills the theatre, affording work crews the space they need to do some painting and plaster work in the 105-year-old theater.

“There are three plaster reliefs that are hard to make out,” said Charles Scavullo, the theater’s executive director.

Once the area has been scraped and painted, those should stand out more. The area below the proscenium arch is being scraped and painted as well.

Updates have been taking place over the past several years. Fortunately, the current work is cosmetic, not structural to Scavullo’s relief.

The Imperial Theatre’s marquee was dedicated to columnist Don Rhodes who died June 9, 2023. Charmain Z. Brackett/Augusta Good News

That wasn’t the case a decade ago when heavy rains in the middle of the night would’ve caused him to jump out of bed and head to the theater to turn on sump pumps

“I can hear a big rainstorm and go right back to sleep,” he said.

The water remediation project was the last major one. Other projects since then have included painting of some of the barrel ceilings and the organ lobby as well as some air conditioning upgrades in the offices.

The remaining vaulted ceilings will get coats of paint this time around.

Scavullo said the theater will soon head into a capital campaign for major improvements.

The master plan for a five-phase project was drawn up in 2018, and an artist rendering stands in the theater lobby.

The project calls for a revamp of the lobby, bathrooms and concession areas on the lower level. The lowered concession spaces would be raised so that people wouldn’t have to use stairs or ramp to go into the area.

Plans for the Imperial Theatre stand in the theater lobby. Charmain Z. Brackett/Augusta Good News

Also, the theater has overflow dressing rooms in the second floor above the lobby in what used to contain the Western Union offices. To access the theater, performers using that dressing room have to go down a set of stairs and outside into the alley to head to the backstage door.

The renovation would tie that building into the theater, provide a conference room and office space.

The restrooms will be expanded and updated according to the Americans with Disabilities Act standards.

 The project will cost about $10 million for all five phases. The cost has risen from $6 million when the initial plan was created. Scavullo cited COVID and subsequent inflation for the rise in cost projectionos.

 The first show of the fall season is Friends with Benefits: Moon Taxi on Aug. 12. Scavullo said the calendar is filling out, and there are a lot of exciting shows being put on the schedule.

Charmain Z. Brackett, the publisher of Augusta Good News, has covered Augusta’s news for 35 years. Reach her at Sign up for the newsletter here.

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