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[Huntington] Keith-Albee work begins

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Study to recommend improvements to Keith-Albee

Study to recommend improvements to Keith-Albee, By Jean Tarbett Hardiman, Herald-Dispatch, June 12, 2007

A fasibility study is nearing completion on the Keith-Albee Performing Arts Center. Sachs Morgan Studio, a New York theater design specialist, was in "awe" of how well-preserved parts of the theater have remained, but are recommending some changes. These changes include a deeper stage, a bigger lobby, a bigger bar with a catering area, more dressing room space, and "many more" ladies toilets. The changes, however, will rank the Keith-Albee as a state-of-the-art performance center.

It will later divulge into recommendations specific to a performance space -- such as stage rigging and setup. The shallow stage, for instance, was ideal for Vaudeville acts in the 1920s, but is not recommended for the lavish performances shown today. Another recommendation is for additional women toilets. Today's standard is two ladies toilets for every 100 seats. The theater can host 2,600, so the building should have 52 women's toilets, however, it has 10.

The recommendations stemmed from many walking tours of the facility, and many old photographs and blueprints of the historic structure. Many of its original features, such as the custom-made railings, lighting, and furniture, are in "good shape."

The study was funded by the Marshall University Foundation.

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Volunteers pitch in at Keith

By Jean Tarbett Hardiman, The Herald-Dispatch [Huntington], August 29, 2007

On Tuesday night, dozens of volunteers gathered at the Keith-Albee theater to clear out the old concession counter, old video games, and debris in the basement. The lobby will be transformed into a reception area, sans the concession stand. Carts will be used for concessions for the time-being, and new carpet is being donated by Alex Vence, owner of the Galleria next door.

Some of the volunteers included 35 Marshall University rugby players and coaches.

The theater has events planned that includes the Marshall Artists Series, several Broadway productions, national acts and an international film festival.

It has been one year and a half since the Greater Huntington Theatre Corp. closed the Keith-Albee movie theater, and about a year since the newly formed Keith-Albee Foundation took over its uncertain building. The foundation is currently awaiting the completion of a feasibility study on changes it needs to make to become a state-of-the-art, competitive performance space.

So far, the theater has installed a state-of-the-art sound and projection system that was used in the "We Are Marshall" premiere, and is installing new pulley system for the November production of "Peter Pan." The pulley system alone costs $200,000, and is funded by the premiere's proceeds dedicated to the theater.

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