Thursday, April 26 , 2018, 7:42 pm | Fair 58º


A New Grande Dame of the Arts

{mosimage}Behind the temporary wooden barriers at the historic Granada Theatre a renaissance is under way.




Behind the temporary wooden barriers at 1216 State St., a renaissance is under way: the rebirth of the historic Granada Theatre as Santa Barbara’s new Center for the Performing Arts.{mosimage}

A landmark in the city since 1924, the theater and the eight-story Granada Building have weathered a lot. They survived the earthquake that leveled lesser structures in 1925, World War II, changing audiences and fluctuations of funding and theatrical tastes.

Now, behind the flimsy wooden walls, the Granada has been gutted. Gone are the old décor, inside walls, seats, restrooms, backstage facilities and almost all defining architectural elements.

What is being created is a state-of-the-art house for live theater and musical productions, with seemingly every modern appointment available to the nonprofit corporation that is managing the $50 million restoration. The word “theatre” has been dropped, and the facility is referred to simply as the Granada.

Vince Coronado, director of marketing for the project, last week provided an insider’s tour of the gutted theater and an enthusiastic projection of the changes in store.

The auditorium itself, upon completion of the restoration next March, will seat 1,553 people, in roomier seats with more legroom. “The sight lines will be better for every member of the audience,” Coronado said, “and they will be on a gentler rake.”

The walls in the auditorium will be lined with decorative acoustic tile to enhance the sound quality, according to Coronado. Where there were two purely decorative boxes at the sides of the stage, there will be 10 fully functional ones.

The proscenium arch will be widened a full 10 feet, Coronado said, and the expanded orchestra pit will have hydraulic lifts to bring the musicians to whatever height is desired, including level with the stage itself.{mosimage}

The public restrooms, notorious for being too small, with long lines at intermission, will be larger and “there will be no bottle-necking,” Coronado said. “They are going to be gorgeous.”

There will be a Founder’s Room on the second floor, where theater supporters can mingle, and also a smaller gathering room for parties and meetings. In the basement, performers will have expanded waiting areas, a large green room and a practice room with a barre, mirrors and a sprung floor, for visiting dancers.

In describing the new décor, Coronado gave credit to EverGreene Painting Studios for the interior. Phillips Metsch Sweeney Moore Architects and Melchiori Construction in Santa Barbara are the major contractors.

The restoration is on schedule for the March opening date. The first concert performer will be singer Natalie Cole. Single tickets will be available in January at 899-2222 or online,

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