The stage at Tennessee Tech’s Backdoor Playhouse is ready to be under lights again. Closed during the renovation of the Jere Whitson building, the Backdoor Playhouse has reopened and the Tech Players are preparing for their 63rd season, with “Chicago” to be their first production back in the space.
“This looks like a new space, but it still feels like the same theater,” artistic director Mark Creter said. “When people come back, they are going to feel like it is still the Backdoor Playhouse.”
But with the building’s renovation, some notable improvements were made to the space. New seats, paint, an updated air conditioning system, new ceiling to better suit the theater lighting system and a new stage have been added.
“Before, it was not unusual for an actor’s foot to go through the floor,” Creter said. “This is now a good, solid floor.”
During the renovation, the Tech Players and others who used the Backdoor Playhouse stage made use of the Talon Theater, a small space located in Foundation Hall. While the program still has use of a costume space in Foundation Hall, all other activities once there will now be moved back over to the Playhouse.
“We are now in a focused, fully functioning, full service theater,” Creter said. “We can do anything in here and we will. We are home.”
The new seats are more comfortable Creter said, but there are not quite as many as the space had before. The Playhouse now seats 155 comfortably with space for handicap seating.
What may be the most notable difference for patrons is a new entrance to the lobby space, where the box office and concessions are located. The new door, located next to the entrance audiences are familiar with, will allow guests to enter the lobby and then move into the theater space.
While an official grand opening won’t be held until the opening of “Chicago” in November, opportunities to experience performances in the space are already available, with “The Summer of Love” with The Stolen Faces performing Wednesday, Sept. 6 at 6 p.m. and an open mic night scheduled for Thursday, Sept. 7 at 9 p.m. Both are free and open to the public.
Those interested in being a part of “Chicago,” the first production for the Tech Players back in the Playhouse, are invited to singing auditions Friday, Sept. 8 from 6-9 p.m. and dancing and acting auditions Saturday, Sept. 9 from 2-6 p.m. Interested performers will need to attend both days, with callbacks as needed Monday, Sept. 11. Actors do not have to be students at Tech to be cast.
Performances for “Chicago” are scheduled for Nov. 9-11, 13-14, and 17-18 at 8 p.m.; Nov. 16 at 10 p.m. and Nov. 18 at 2 p.m.For more information, visit https://www.tntech.edu/bdph/.