Macon — The Grand Opera House is ready to welcome showgoers again after completing the second phase of renovations. The focus this time was on the area near the front door.
"So the first phase was the seating in the theater and the loading dock," said executive director of the opera house, Joe Patti. "This phase is more about the entryway, that experience that you have when you come in."
Round two of $3 million in SPLOST funds resulted in construction and renovation of two reception rooms. The Encore Room, which frequent visitors may have been familiar with, and the new CenterState Reception Room, formerly a storage area, give the Grand Opera House opportunities to entertain beyond just the ticketed show.
Patti said he wants to give visitors a greater show experience with new options.
"So maybe having a meet and greet with the artist before and after the show, Q&A sessions, maybe master classes with people," Patti said. "[We're] really making this more than just a place where you walk in, you see a show and you leave, but that it adds so much more to your experience."
The reception rooms are complete with full bars and are brightened with natural light from windows that had previously been boarded up. Other improvements include a doubling in size of the bathrooms and the reclamation of the original marble floors in the lobby. The lobby floors had previously been covered in carpet.
The Grand Opera House held a reception for its sponsors on Monday night, but one person who was no stranger to the theater was former director Cindy Hill-Williams. She was excited to see the differences compared to her days roaming the halls.
"I kind of knew what they were planning, but I had no idea what it would look like. It is mind-blowing," Hill-Williams said.
Hill-Williams said she especially appreciates the way the theater renovations maintained the original architecture.
"They’ve done such a beautiful job of honoring what was here and then taking it to a whole other level just like the floor. When you walk in you’re walking on a floor that was already here, but was covered up by carpet and it just sets the tone," Hill-Williams said. "It just elevates the experience that people are going to have. They were already getting a good show, but they’re going to have an even greater experience here."
The theater will be welcoming the community on Tuesday, October 16, with an open house so people can see the renovations. The first shows will be on Friday. The Grand Opera House is presenting a double feature of "The Allman Brothers at the Grand Opera House" and "Back to Macon."