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New seats, new feel in renovated FAC

Not only a comfortable renovation, but a complete overhaul of the theater in the Fine Arts Center was made over the summer at a cost of just under $1 million.At first inspection of the newly re-dedicated John and Susan Casella Theater in the Fine Arts Center, one might think that the just the seats had been swapped out, but a closer look reveals a long list of improvements.

On Saturday Sept. 9, the newly remodeled FAC was officially unveiled to a crowded theater where John and Susan Casella were the honored guests after their donation of $500,000 last year helped make the renovation possible.

The evening featured student performers, the Castleton Jazz Ensemble and fireworks to close out the night, and while the new seats, paint and dedication signs were the most visible of the renovations, they were only a small part of the year-long project.

“It was a wonderful event,” Mariko Hancock, director of cultural programming, said. “A real class act.”

As you first walk into the Fine Arts Center the first noticeable enhancement is on the front patio, which has been completely remade to include new plants, sidewalk lighting and a new sidewalk located along the new brick wall of the patio. Next, as you walk into the building, the gallery has been repainted and the ceiling has been rebuilt to include new track lighting.

“I am very pleased,” Bill Allen, dean of admissions, said. “I’ve heard good things about the acoustics and I am very pleased with how the patio looks.”

Inside the theater, the stage has been rebuilt including electrical replacements, a rebuilt catwalk in the ceiling and arriving soon will be acoustical panels to be placed on the back wall to enhance the sound quality.

Most notable once inside the theater, however, are the 484 new seats lining the floors. The Castleton green seats have spots on the armrest that will feature names of individuals who buy an engraved plaque for a donation of $250. So far 177 of the plaques have been sold generating $44,250 of the possible $120,000.

“They are thicker cushioned and sit at a more relaxed position,” sophomore Dana Buscio said.

Downstairs in the FAC, the dance floor was replaced and the women’s room was enlarged.

Still to come in the overhaul project will be an expansion of the box office window to accommodate larger crowds as well as new carpeting in the gallery, which is scheduled to be renovated over the October break.