Archive for Thursday, October 25, 2007

Theater size puts curbs on productions

October 25, 2007

Angela Yarnell, the director of choirs for Eudora High School, has a window in her office covered with pictures of her students performing. But not all of the students who performed in some plays made it into the photos because there was not enough room on the stage in the Eudora Middle School auditorium where band concerts, variety shows and choral programs for all levels of the school are held.

"The stage just isn't big enough," Yarnell said. "There's absolutely no room for costume changes, and when we do any dancing there are height issues with the lifts because the students' heads come right up to some of the lights."

Should the $45 million school bond referendum pass Nov. 6, the high school would receive a total of $7 million in upgrades, including a new auditorium and additional science classrooms. Over half of that $7 million would go toward the construction of a new 750-seat auditorium for all Eudora schools to be built on the northwest side of the high school. The original plans for the high school included a new auditorium, but to keep costs in line for the first phase of building, the auditorium was delayed to a later phase.

While the size of the current stage is a problem, seating capacity also is a concern. The current auditorium has a capacity of 450 but has only 413 seats.

"If you have a music program with 100 students, which is about the average size of one of our elementary classes, and each of them brings their parents and grandparents, that's too much and we have to tell someone that we can't let them in," Eudora USD 491 Superintendent Marty Kobza said.

Yarnell, who has been teaching in Eudora for six years, can attest to the same problems.

"At Platinum (a yearly variety show), we have to turn people away -- and there are two showings," Yarnell, said. "One year, we had to turn over 100 people away. So this year, we're going to have three showings."

There also are technological issues that Yarnell said need to be corrected.

"There's a lot of room for improvement," she said. "There are some lights that don't work anymore, and these aren't problems that replacing a bulb can fix -- some lights are completely melted on the inside. There also aren't enough outlets for our microphones."

Yarnell is pleased to see growth in the choir, which has ballooned from 45 members when she began to 150 members no, but the space issues the growth created has made it both a blessing and a curse.

"We're so glad to have the growth and we're fortunate to have so many people who want to come to our concerts, but we're running out of room both in the auditorium and the classroom."

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