Homburg Theatre Entering the 21st Century
Beginning in 2011, the 1,100-seat Homburg Theatre underwent a multi-year revitalization to better accommodate larger audience capacity requirements. Conducted by Nine Yards Studio, a Charlottetown-based architecture firm, and Trizart Alliance, a theatre design and consulting ﬁrm in Montreal, the first two phases brought about improved acoustics, lighting and seating. The replacement of aging understage equipment with two Gala Systems automated stage lifts and three seat wagons constituted the final phase in 2017.
As Mike Cochrane, then Chief Operating Officer with the Centre, pointed out to CBC News (1) last year, this upgrading of the stage lifts was an absolute must for safety considerations. They “[…] had to [be] bandaided over a number of years. They were hydraulic. They would leak, and not level, and lower on their own, and sometimes mechanically not operate very well […] We've had a few scary moments over the years, but it was a very useful tool that has served this place for 50 years. So for another 50 years, we want[ed] to make sure that the lifts [would be] in good operating order and [that] we [would] still have that flexibility when we need to use it.
Thanks to Gala Systems, the Homburg Theatre can now accommodate a thrust-stageby removing the first 5 rows of seats automatically in the orchestra section, in under 30 minutes. It also suits the needs of the crew and artists during loading-in/loading-out activities: “[The lifts allow] us to get stuff like grand pianos and [equipment] up from the basement area, where you don’t store at stage level. Stage level square footage is at a premium,” Cochrane explained to The Guardian (2).
As part of the PEI's Confederation Centre of the Arts, a cultural hub welcoming 300,000 visitors each year, the Homburg Theatre’s revitalization with state-of-the-art equipment was most welcomed. With easier and safer stage management capabilities made possible by Gala’s technology, it can now host many different types of productions – from cabarets, choral music and lectures to dance shows, live concerts and theatre, including large-scale musical theatre productions –to creatively pursue its artistic mission for many years to come.