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First Look: St. Margaret's Performing Arts Center

Take a sneak peek at the just-completed theater.

The new Performing Arts Center at will officially open the first day of school, Aug. 29.

Film-goers attending the will get a sneak peak when Chariots of Fire is screened there as part of the multi-venue event.

But you can get an even earlier peek here at Patch.

Here are some hard and acoustically optimized facts about the , whose back fronts Ortega Highway, according to Darcy Rice, director of the arts at St. Margaret’s:

  • The main theater seats 450 and features a full – but not completely out-of-sight – orchestra pit
  • Its side walls can move to build creative sets
  • Instead of a fly system for the curtains, lights and scenery, it uses a tension grid
  • An orchestra practice room is specifically designed with its specific sound needs in mind
  • The wardrobe area is organized on a dry-cleaning rack and can hold 4,200 garments
  • The band room is set up for different acoustics, according to its instruments
  • 11 sound-proofed practice rooms are available
  • Two of the practice rooms and the orchestra, band and chorale rooms can be converted into recording studios
  • The dance studio’s high ceiling allows for natural light to stream in above the mirrors
  • A 125-seat “black box” theater is acoustically dead, which is better for amplified sound, jazz and the spoken word
  • It features a dressing room for both girls and boys, a special dressing room for dignitaries, a green room, a catering area and student artwork on display
  • The chandeliers were custom-made for St. Margaret’s

Life before the Performing Arts Center meant commandeering classrooms for dressing rooms, the gym was the dance studio and dances needed to be re-choreographed for the performance stage and costumes got sewn at home, Rice said.

“It’s been a long time coming,” he said, beaming.

St. Margaret’s will be launching an adjunct-teacher program, where music teachers are first screened by the school, then invited onto campus after hours to meet with students in the practice rooms for music lessons.

“We're trying to create a culture where music is something they do here,” Rice said. “The goal is to provide a rich, expressive, artistic experience for all students.”

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