As traffic squeezed through the first block of West Victoria Street this week, crews were busily working on the Victoria Theater’s overhaul, which is just a few months away from completion, according to the Ensemble Theatre Company of Santa Barbara.
Executive Director Jonathan Fox told Noozhawk that construction on the project at 33 W. Victoria St. was moving very fast, and the group is still on target to complete the work in late October or early November.
“Most of the steel structure in the theater is now in place, as are most of the walls and the stage,” he said.
“The reason for the street closure is that the new front landing is now being built, and utilities are being relocated and reconnected. Seeing the theater now really shows what an intimate and dynamic space it will be.”
In addition to the work being done to the front of the building, passersby cutting through Lot 5 behind the theater will notice that the back of the theater’s fly tower has been enclosed.
Once construction is complete, the company will move into the Victoria Street location from its current home at the Alhecama Theatre, 914 Santa Barbara St.
The company’s first production in the redone space is expected in early December.
Noozhawk took a tour of the construction progress earlier this year, when project supervisor James Tooley of Frank Schipper Construction said the renovated theater will have better sight lines, with raised seating facing a 65-foot-wide, 30-foot deep stage.
The hall will be able to seat about 300 people.
Because the 80-year-old building sits inside the boundaries of the El Pueblo Viejo Historical District in downtown Santa Barbara, the building’s facade cannot be changed significantly.
As a result, while the back of the theater was demolished to build a new fly tower, the rest of the exterior has remained the same.
Fox said that the theater company is still raising the funds to complete the construction, with $1.5 million still needed.
Fox said that thanks to Ensemble Theatre board member Dana White, every two dollars given between now and Oct. 31, the challenge grant will add an additional dollar, up to $500,000.
To find out more about giving opportunities and construction progress, visit the organization's website.