Batavia Fine Arts Centre ready for opening night
Published: Friday, Aug. 19, 2011 2:31 p.m. CDT • Updated: Sunday, Aug. 21, 2011 12:07 a.m. CDT
By AL LAGATTOLLA - firstname.lastname@example.org
BATAVIA – Dominic Cattero stood inside the darkened main theater of the new Batavia Fine Arts Centre and closed the curtain, promising it'd make an impressive sight.
Cattero, the theater's manager, turned on the lights, and the room came alive. The soft lighting throughout the room showed row after row of cushy seats, and a spotlight shown on the curtain that covered the stage.
The building is ready for its opening night.
The new jewel of the Batavia arts scene makes its debut with a Red Carpet Gala at 6 p.m. Saturday at the center, which is at 1401 W. Wilson St. The building's logo will be unveiled, and there will be tours, an arts showcase and performances by several groups.
The Fine Arts Centre is at Batavia High School, and the school's drama department will stage shows there. But it's about more than that. Other Batavia arts organizations will put on shows in the facility, and there will be attractions from out of the area as well.
Anne Gugliuzza, who owns the Batavia Academy of Dance, is among those excited about the future.
"I'm speechless," she said. "It is amazing. It is so wonderful, and it really trumps anything else we've had here."
What they have is a facility that has four areas in which shows can be staged. The main stage area seats as many as 890 people. A more intimate stage is the black box theater, so named because it is a black room shaped like a box. It seats as many as 150.
Cattero gestured to an outside courtyard area that could seat 275 people. And there also is a two-story gallery space. There is a box office in the front and a makeup room that connects with the black box theater.
There also is a shop area that needs to be stocked. A "Stock the Shop" event is going on through Monday, in which the Fine Arts Centre has registered at Ace Hardware in Batavia, and those who wish to help can buy items off that list.
Batavia High School Principal Lisa Hichens said the Fine Arts Centre represents a hope that many had since the school's cafetorium opened in 1994. Student performances had been there since then, but because the cafetorium also serves as the school's cafeteria, many found that it wasn't a good venue for shows.
She said the new center was a big hit for faculty members Thursday when they got their first glimpse.
"There is an increased comfort level. You can't even compare it," she said. "The audience would be in plastic cafeteria chairs.
"At the time, it was what we could afford. But we always knew we would have a fine arts center."
Gugliuzza is happy to see that day arrive.
"The high school has been in need of a performing arts facility forever," she said. "The cafetorium just didn't cut it for the caliber of production that the high school produces."
The Batavia Academy of Dance is just one of many local organizations that will stand to benefit. Cattero mentioned that Water Street Studios will have a major presence at the facility as well. One of Water Street's founders, Joi Cuartero, is the executive director of Batavia MainStreet.
"It's greatly impressive," Cuartero said. "It's attached to the high school, so people assume that it is the high school auditorium, but it is much more than that. They plan to bring in national-level shows.
"It's fantastic that the facility can handle something like that. It's something where Batavia is really going to be looked at as a hub for the arts."
That statement is significant for Cattero, who graduated from Batavia High School in 1999. He performed in music and drama, and he only could dream of a place such as the new center.
"It's nice to know that the next generation of students will be performing on a truly professional stage," Cattero said. "They're extremely lucky."
Gugliuzza said opening night will be an emotional experience. Her dancers will be on stage at the start of the show.
"This is such an honor and such a blessing," she said. "We are very, very excited to have this opportunity."
Her predicted reaction?
"There will be tears," she said.
Red Carpet Gala
Starting time: 6 p.m. Saturday
Location: Batavia Fine Arts Centre, 1401 W. Wilson St.
Cost: Free, black-tie optional