The current state of the aging Avalon
Renovations are the key first phase of the Cornerstone Project — and they’re sorely needed if the Avalon is to be brought into the modern era.
People seem to be most vocal about replacing the seats, which are actually hand-me-downs from the theater at the Mesa Mall.
Maybe more critically, the stage is just 1,500 square feet now. There is nowhere for performers to wait in the wings, to prepare for the performance, to put on costumes and makeup, to store props and clothes, to do all the things behind the scenes required to put on a show.
For larger productions, the theater today often rents a space next door — performers head outside through a side door, and then to the other side of the alley.
“In the winter, when they do ‘The Nutcracker,’ all the little kids are running back and forth across the alley,” said Robin Brown, development director with the Avalon Foundation.
“It’s horribly embarrassing to tell Michael Bolton that he’ll need to change across the alley,” she said.
The guts of the production suffer, as well. The current outdated system that holds scenes and lighting is not up to code, and the audio and lighting systems are painfully out of date.
Everything up to and including the slope of the floor — which is planned to be resloped on both audience levels to give a better viewing angle — could stand to be modernized.
A report by architects Westlake Reed Leskosky in 2010 aptly described some of the building’s other pressing deficiencies.
■ About the basement’s tiny bathrooms: “They are in good condition, but there is no accessible route or accessible stalls. Several of the interviewed users indicated that there were safety and security concerns.”
■ Regarding the stage: “There is no wing space and the depth of the stage is inadequate for larger performances that have been proposed.”
■ About the theater-unfriendly heating, ventilation and air conditioning system: “The existing sheet metal ductwork is under-sized for a theater application resulting in higher air velocities which generate noise; in addition, much of the ductwork is flexible ductwork. The combination of under-sized ductwork, use of flexible ductwork and rooftop unit mounting locations generates a tremendous amount of radiated and discharge noise within the Auditorium.”