but more information to put everything in context- and let's start with a couple of photos from this morning's tour (part of my Arts Class at USF)---
you can see it is large and it is purple inside and out....
here are some miscellaneous facts about the Van Wezel that I learned today-in the order that I noted them on my phone memo- some of these I will return to but for now- just glance over them-
- Van Wezel is owned and controlled by the City of Sarasota
- Building began in 1968 and the first show opened in January of 1970
- Fiddler on the Roof with Zero Mostel was the first show
- The art collection is owned by the Fine Arts Society of Sarasota and is displayed at the Van Wezel The cost of the project in 1968-70 was 2.9 million and there was a 400K overrun from the 2.5 million bond issue - it was made up by the Van Wezels in exchange for the naming rights
- The Architect was Peters of the Taliesin Studios- the son-in-law of Frank Lloyd Wright
- the original build out had to be substantially modified to meet the budget in 1968-70 of 2.9 million
- therefore a renovation was undertaken in 1993 which cost 20 million but put the hall completely back to the original size and design
- At that time the roof in theater was raised and stage area was also enlarged (now the only show that can't be handled is Lion King)
- Stage door is bayside/left
- Color and zigzag pattern is shell based from Mrs FLW
- 13 dressing rooms downstairs one up right off stage
- 3 dock doors for loading
- Continental seating - no aisle
- Less than 4 minutes to evacuate through 18 doors
- 1736 people seating
- 92 ft high back stage
- Only the front curtains are motorized everything else hand driven
- 11 people in administration including education dept.
- Van Wezel Foundation is the fund raising arm - they buy buses to transport students to the hall
- 80k for new curtain
- 550 volunteers 60 ushers needed for each show
- Ushers cannot cross over a patron to get to an open seat
- Petunia is the name of the purple cow
working backwards at this point- here is Petunia- above
as noted above - there are 18 exit doors for the 1736 seat auditorium and the fire evacuation can be done in 4 minutes- however- the lack of a center aisle (known as continental seating) drives the patrons wild because inevitably the folks seated exactly in the center come last and every time someone comes for a seat inward from yours you must stand up to let them go by-
some photos of back stage- limited touring today because hot shot Harry Connick was playing tonight and his crew was occupying the green room (we could only look in as we were hurried past it) and they freaked out about photos- LOL- like we were stealing state secrets LOL- wonder if Harry's wearing the white shirt or the white shirt tonight? LOL
in the piano storage- two Steinways and a Yamaha along with a harpsichord and one other piano type instrument -
one piano tuner works there full time -
these rubberized mats are rolled out on the floor of the stage when the ballet or dancing or gymnastics or any kind of acrobatic acts perform - it is non slip and soft on the feet when landing from leaps and bounds (so to speak)
the piano room is right across from the orchestra pit which can be raised and lowered into the auditorium
this dressing room was one of thirteen downstairs - the star's dressing room is upstairs immediately off stage-
here's a "funny" story- a wardrobe person was steaming a costume during the production of a show one night and set off the fire alarms - the place had to be completely evacuated in the middle of the show- now in "wardrobe" which looks exactly like a hotel laundry room - there is a sign warning them not to do this again!
back upstairs some of the wonderful art collection of the Fine Arts Society of Sarasota which is displayed in the Van Wezel's lobby-
the collage below comes from the Fine Arts Society's web page and you can find much more detail about all of the paintings and other works there-
above their photo- mine was marred by the glare of the lighting- but here is the detail from alongside the painting in the VW
as we ended the tour we returned to the Grand Foyer - to see the inspiration for the design and the color of the VW-
below photos from the Internet-
here is some press info that pulls it together better than my bullet points above-
Set along Sarasota's beautiful bayfront, the landmark Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall has been entertaining audiences with a variety of music, dance, theater and comedy for more than 42 years.
Built in 1968 with funds from a city bond referendum and a bequest from philanthropists Lewis and Eugenia Van Wezel, the Van Wezel opened its doors in 1970 with a production of Fiddler on the Roof. Since then, the Hall has welcomed a broad range of performers and shows, including world-class symphonies, both classical and modern dance companies, jazz artists, pop legends, Comedy and Broadway.
With its renovation in 2000, the Hall contains 25,000 more square feet than before; larger lobbies and Grand Foyer, more restrooms, a new stagehouse, the latest in sound and lighting systems, and an Education Center. The 1,736-seat Hall is completely compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, and is owned and operated by the City of Sarasota.
The 6,000 square foot Grand Foyer comfortably seats 35-350, and opens onto the Terrace and Bayfront lawn, accommodating an additional 1500. Smaller groups can enjoy the Selby Education Center, Founders Lounge and Greenroom with seating for up to 30 in small groups or breakout sessions.
The Van Wezel's seashell design was conceived by William Wesley Peters of Taliesin Associated Architects of the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation. This design actually came from two seashells from the Sea of Japan, which are permanently displayed in the Hall. The lavender and purple color scheme selected by Wright's widow, Olgivanna Lloyd Wright, has helped to make the building a Sarasota landmark.
Renowned for his innovative organic structures, Van Wezel architect William Wesley Peters holds a vital place in the history of 20th Century American architecture. A chief architect at Taliesin Associated Architects of the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, Peters collaborated with Wright for more than a quarter century on projects including Fallingwater and the Guggenheim Museum.
Many of Frank Lloyd Wright’s basic architectural philosophies are clearly evident in the work his son-in-law created. "It was designed based on the relationship to nature and with the site; the roof based on a seashell, opening the building to views of Sarasota Bay, the dramatic interior spaces, and use of humble materials to achieve an unexpected richness. They all add up to a ‘celebration of circumstance,’ as Frank Lloyd Wright said of other designs."