OWOSSO (WJRT) -
(05/05/14) - Seven years after a fire nearly destroyed the Lebowsky Center, actors are ready to take the stage once again.
It's hard not to notice the changes at this historic theater in the heart of downtown Owosso.
"The theater décor is a lot of grays and blacks, and dark earth colors, but then the seats just provide a pop," said Ryan Bladzik, executive director.
Not all was lost in the fire back in 2007 - some familiar touches remain at the Lebowsky Center.
"They will see this presenium arch, the stage itself is not changed very much actually. They will see the lights under the balcony are the same lights," said Linda Keenan, former executive director.
Also familiar - chair sides and even the carpet. It's the same pattern that dates way back to 1926.
But there are a lot of improvements, including behind-the-scenes features you might not notice.
"I love telling people how we have lining in the ducts to make sure you can't hear air during a performance and the sound baffles in the curtain," Bladzik said.
Not surprisingly, there's a new fire suppression system. Also exciting for the Owosso Community Players, an elevating orchestra pit and new rigging system. For actors who love their creature comforts - new dressing rooms.
Right now, cast and crew are preparing for their first performance, which some thought might be 'Beauty and Beast', which was on stage when the Lebowsky Center was set on fire.
"We want to remember the past, but it's not about the past, it's about the future. And Shrek is certainly an example of that," Keenan said.
Another nod to the future of this community gem - Bladzik took over as executive director in January.
Keenan is retiring, but she wouldn't leave until she was sure this theater hadn't seen its final curtain call.
If you'd like to see the first performance in seven years at the Lebowsky, tickets are still available for this weekend and next. For ticket information, click HERE.
Restoration of the theater cost about $6 million. A combination of community donations and grant money paid for the restoration of the theater, which cost about $6 million.