The Maestro® Sets the Stage in Minnesota: Introducing the New London-Spicer School Performing Arts Center
The vision to create the New London-Spicer School District Performing Arts Center with state-of-the-art acoustics began in 1993. This past spring, the decades of hard work finally paid off.
In 2016, local voters overwhelmingly supported a $21.6 million referendum supporting extensive NL-S school updates. These improvements included building a brand new 40,000 square foot, 650-seat Performing Arts Center attached to the existing middle and high schools. This new multi-purpose theatre space would not only provide students with a new performance space, it would also put Kandiyohi County on the map as a professional event destination for visitors.
But, before building could begin, NL-S needed an innovative design and equipment to create flexibility, exceptional sound, and set the theatre apart.
Designing an Event Destination
Until now, the NL-S school didn’t have a stage. Musical performances took place in hallways, classrooms, or the same gym where audiences sat on hard bleachers cheering for their favorite basketball players. For years, the school’s theatre students were bused to an off-site location where the school rented space from Little Theatre in New London.
“Knowing that our district will continue to grow, the concept of a multi-purpose space was important to our community,” Megan Field, the NL-S Communication Director said. “We wanted to make sure that our Performing Arts Center was used for more than just theatre performances.”
To create a venue that would function for a variety of performances from band and choir concerts to plays, musicals, and professional events, the Center needed flexibility. At the heart of its design, Wenger proposed The Maestro full-stage acoustical shell. This cost-effective solution is the newest in Wenger’s innovative acoustical product line. Maestro comes loaded with features, stunning performance aesthetics, and conveniences unlike any other stage system to date.
Construction of the new performing arts space began in August 2016; the complexity of the project left it plagued by site setbacks including utility issues, permit delays, and inclement weather. NL-S also had to work closely with the architect and building project supervisor to ensure that the Center’s storage space for the acoustical shell would work. NL-S has been happy with the role the Maestro plays in their completed theatre.
The Magic of the Maestro
The Maestro’s wood veneer shell has a space-saving design with individual towers that nest together when they’re not in use. This not only saves valuable space backstage, it also allows for easy reconfiguration with a crew of three people to accommodate performances of all sizes. Each of the towers is counterweighted for maximum stability and safety while delivering the most impressive full-stage acoustics that can also create an environment for entertainment.
To prevent sound from getting lost in the fly loft, the Center opted for Maestro ceiling panels with integrated light fixtures suspended from typical stage rigging systems. These panels are also adjustable and easy to set up with as few as two people. Maestro ceiling and tower panels are constructed with a rigid honeycomb interior, a hard panel skin, and black aluminum edging to guarantee exceptional sound quality and durability.
“The shell adds additional beauty to the stage and plays an important piece in the sound quality of our theatre,” Field said. “We have been very happy so far. We actually leave the shell up more often than not.”
To make the most of the theatre space, NL-S needed to make sure they had enough people adequately trained in set-up, take-down, and use of the new equipment. This will continue to be a challenge, but students are eager to learn from a professional, part-time technician.
When the doors of the Performing Arts Center finally opened in May 2018, everyone agreed that the new NL-S Performing Arts Center had been worth the wait.
“It has a WOW factor that we only dreamed of.”
While longtime arts and education foundation supporters toured the new facility at a sneak preview in May, they observed that there wasn’t a bad seat in the house. But they weren’t the only ones who were thrilled with the new performance space, the school’s band and choir students had already been enjoying the spectacular stage and acoustics during rehearsals. When the announcement rang out that concerts would no longer take place in the gym, applause broke out.
NL-S is still getting requests for tours of the space, and the district calendar is already filling up with events. Several outside groups are also interested in using the facility for events.
This fall, NL-S plans on having an open house event to welcome the community into the Performing Arts Center as they kickoff off their first musical (“The Wizard of Oz”) held in the new theatre.
“It has a WOW factor that we only dreamed of,” Field said. “NL-S has so many talented students in a variety of avenues and this space allows us to showcase their hard work and achievements.”