Kansas City Repertory Theatre is rapidly closing in on its $5 million fundraising goal to allow a major renovation and expansion of the Spencer Theatre, including the lobby area and the auditorium.
The announcement was expected to be made Tuesday as part of UMKC Founders Day. Angela Gieras, the Rep’s executive director, said Monday that the campaign had raised almost $4.8 million and that she was confident that the balance would be committed by March 1. The campaign, supported by a lead gift of $3 million from the Hall Family Foundation, was announced last summer.
The Spencer Theatre is part of the James C. Olson Performing Arts Center, 4949 Cherry St., which also houses White Recital Hall, the Rep’s scenery and costume shops as well as administrative offices, UMKC theater faculty offices and rehearsal facilities.
Gieras said the fundraising effort had received vital assistance from the UMKC Foundation, founded in 2009 in part to raise money for the university, as well as from Chancellor Leo Morton.
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“The Rep has been responsible for raising the money but the foundation and the chancellor have been wonderful partners with us,” Gieras said. “What that means is that when we would identify potential donors and we both had relationships with them, we went together to talk to them.”
She said said construction was expected to begin in May and continue through the summer and into the fall. The renovated theater is planned to be ready for the 2015 production of “A Christmas Carol.”
Gieras said the interior of the Spencer theater would get a new stage floor — the first since the center opened in 1979 — as well as a new acoustical design. The Spencer can seat about 600 for a conventional proscenium show, but Gieras said the theater would lose some seating in the renovation. She said a new walkway will connect upstairs entrances to the auditorium above the lobby.
Plans also call for additional restrooms, a cafe area, a larger lobby and an altered building facade.
“The redesign of the Spencer is really about enhancing the audience experience,” Gieras said.
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