When I saw The Producers, I also had the joy of being able to see the newly reopened Iowa Theatre Building, which is the home of Theatre Cedar Rapids. For those of you that are unaware, the building suffered extensive damage after the floods in 2008, causing TCR to relocate while they renovated the building.
One of the ads in the program says, “When life hands you lemons? You build a better theater.” This is the best way to describe what TCR has done. Before, the space was definitely a very nice space and one of the nicer spaces in Eastern Iowa. Now, their theater has facilities that are on par with those at Steppenwolf and the Goodman while maintaining a classic elegance.
In some aspects, the flood proved to have its benefits. Crown moulding that had been covered up by drywall was discovered when taking down that drywall. According to a program for the grand reopening, there used to be chandeliers that hung above the opera boxes in the auditorium that were removed at some point. In 2009, an antiques dealer contacted the theater and said that they had found the missing chandeliers in storage. The chandeliers have now been restored to their home, which only adds to the historic ambience of the theater.
Because of the restored historic look and color scheme, it gives you a feel of what the theater might have looked like when it first opened in the 1928. But the facilities bring that feel to the needs of the modern theatergoer. There are actually comfortable seats in the theater. There is not only an actual concessions booth in the lobby, but there is also a lounge that is adjacent to the lobby. The lounge features large windows that overlook First Avenue and dim lighting, which gives it a swanky, upscale, big city feel. The lounge also gives people additional places to stand or sit before the show or during intermission, keeping the lobby from being incredibly crowded.
The photographs that used to hang on the walls in the lobby are no longer there in the physical framed picture form. However, there are now flat screen TVs in the lobby that have the pictures on a slideshow, in addition to screens that have information on upcoming productions at the theater.
I didn’t get the chance to look at what the second floor or the new lower lobby look like, but I was still completely stunned by the beauty of the new building. It is a facility that will enable Theatre Cedar Rapids to produce the high-quality productions they are known for doing, while catering to the needs of the audience. But beyond that, what is completely astonishing is that the theater reached their deadline for reopening their theater. It is wonderful to know that not only does Theatre Cedar Rapids have the support of the community, but also that the city and the entire Corridor have something to be proud of.