Last updated on April 28th, 2021 at 11:52 am
The Marcus Performing Arts Center is preparing to welcome back audiences to the newly renovated Uihlein Hall next week.
The Marcus Center’s main performance venue has been closed to live performances for more than a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a hiatus that allowed the center to complete a series of building upgrades.
Now, the new Uihlein Hall will host its first public performance on May 7.
“As we realized the pandemic was going to last far longer than any of us could have initially anticipated, we recognized an opportunity to focus on making important improvements to our space while the venue was closed,” said Kendra Whitlock Ingram, president and chief executive officer of the Marcus Center. “After speaking with resident companies, including the Milwaukee Ballet and Florentine Opera, our top priority quickly became renovating the seats in Uihlein Hall.”
The renovations involved adding new seats, installing a new seating configuration with multiple aisles, enhancing ADA accommodations and increasing public health amenities.
Previously, seating in the hall was arranged in a continental style, meaning all seats were located in one large central section without center aisles. Now, it has two main aisles and the seats are divided into three sections.
The Marcus Center also added a new ticketless entry process and other safety measures to help patrons socially distance. Capacity limits will be in accordance with city health guidelines.
Philanthropists Donald and Donna Baumgartner gave a lead $1 million gift for the $4 million renovation project. The Marcus Center also received a major gift from an anonymous donor and a grant from the Herzfeld Foundation.
The Florentine Opera Company is the first group to perform in the newly renovated space, with its production of “Little Mahagonny” on May 7, which will be a fully produced mainstage grand opera with a small orchestra.
“The continued support and generosity of donors made it possible not only for our company to make it through a tumultuous year, but also gives us the opportunity to return to live performances in an improved theater that will offer a world-class patron experience,” said Maggey Oplinger, general director and CEO of the Florentine. “Our artists are thrilled to be among the first to perform in this beautiful space as we begin bringing live musical performances back to the Milwaukee arts community.”