Friday, December 14, 2018
Argyros Performing Arts Center Unveiled
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Kathy Wygle will have a second-floor lobby named in her honor.
 
Sunday, November 25, 2018
 

STORY AND PHOTOS BY KAREN BOSSICK

The Meyer Constellation Sound System has yet to be dialed in. And the huge 2k quality projector has yet to arrive, along with the lobby staircase. The safety lock system for the retractable seats is a week away, and the offices aren’t due to be finished until Dec. 10.

But hundreds of Wood River Valley residents who crowded into the Argyros Performing Arts Center on Saturday got a peek at the possibilities the new state-of-the-art facility holds.

“I’m insanely excited. The whole thing is unbelievable,” said Jon Kane, who will stage the first theatrical production in the theater when he offers a free play reading on Dec. 8. “I have really fond memories of the old nexStage Theater. But recently I did shows in New York and San Francisco at top theaters, and this blows them away.”

 
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Samuel Mollner has been learning how to work the state-of-the-art sound and lightning systems.
 

As spectators filed in, a piano tuner was hard at work tuning the grand piano on stage ahead of several open house performances offered by pianists Alan Pennay and Tristan Boloix and various dance groups and choirs.

Up in the sound booth the center’s technical director Samuel Mollner showed off his sound system which he said is as powerful as it gets. Performers will be able to be heard from anywhere, he said, and he’ll be able to change the feeling of the theater to resemble everything from a cathedral to a recording studio.

Mollner demonstrated how he can make transparencies to project on the screen in 20 minutes versus the three weeks it would take to do elsewhere.

 “I can create thousands of colors for the stage, too,” said Mollener, who began working in theater production at 14, capping it with a Bachelor of Fine Art in Theater Production at the University of Utah.

 
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Samuel Mollner shows how he can press an orange button on a color chart, then drag his finger around the center of a computerized lighting display to turn the orange different shades of orange.
 

The projector, which is being made by hand and customized for the theater, will be able to play everything from Blue Ray and DVD to the latest Hollywood release.

“That was a big consideration with the Sun Valley Film Festival using our facility,” he said. “It will have full cinema sound. It will be quite an experience.”

Just the sliding glass windows he sits behind are marvel enough.

Each weighs in between 500 and 700 pounds, providing some soundproofing. And they’re made of quartz composite glass to reduce reflection

 
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Michael Hoover shows how the 210 seats from Belgium fold down before retracting.
 

Outside the sound booth, venue and event director Michael Hoover answered Ken and Gina Lagergren’s questions about the theater’s 210 retractable chairs. Two people will be able to put them away in a half-hour, he said. If more people are involved, you might be able to do it in 10 minutes, he offered.

The stage is also very flexible, noted Hoover. It can be moved to the center of the theater for a theater-in-the-round. Or, it can be decreased in size from 18-by-30 feet to as little as 6-by-6 feet.

The lightning designer will be able to walk out on a tension grid catwalk so strong it can hold an elephant to hang curtains and lights. In most theaters, Hoover said, the light apparatus is lowered to the floor for the desired number of lights to be affixed and then the lighting designer has to climb a ladder to turn the lights where he or she wants them.

Kathy Wygle, who manned the nexStage Theater for a couple decades, beamed as she greeted friends.   She had learned the night before during a donor’s party featuring Sun Valley vocalist Peter Cetera that the second-floor lobby was to be named in her honor.

 
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The Bailey Studio can be used for small theater productions, private lunches, meetings and other functions.
 

“I just broke down crying,” said Wygle, who had taken a sledgehammer to the nexStage in an unusual groundbreaking 17 months earlier. “Someone donated it for me!”

 “I’m just so excited to have a such a theater,” said Jeanne Bell. “I’ve lived here 45 years and I’m excited to see the possibilities. It’s a community place and I think it will create a sense of community.”

Mayor Neil Bradshaw echoed her words.

“This building is a testament to the power of community. This facility will give back and will continue to give back for the next 50 years, the next 100 years.”

Julia Argyros, who was the principle donor along with her husband George, asked the audience if they liked the red seats.

“I picked the color out, then worried about it for six months,” she said, obviously showing a preference for red given her red winter coat.

Tim Mott, who was one of the driving forces behind the new center, offered the rest of the story.

“We were unsure what the color should be and to make her point Julia flew up from Orange County,” he said. “She brought a seat with her from a theater in Orange County and carried it in and said, ‘It would be really nice if you selected this color.’ ”

Mott told donors that he hopes the theater transforms the Wood River Valley in ways that make the community more vibrant, thriving and enchanting for generations to come. He noted how his son Casey had acted in a nexStage production of “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” when he was 15 before going on to work in film and event planning.

“For our youth to have the experience of singing in a world-class facility I hope will be very inspiring,” he said.

R.L. Rowsey addressed the audience as he prepared to lead the Caritas Chorale in singing “Something Told the Wild Geese.”

 “We are grateful to stand in this space. How cool,” he said.

Prue Hemming shared her excitement about the echo-reducing foam behind the theater’s attractive wooden wall slats.

“I sat in the top row during the concert and the sound was so good. It has a nice deadening effect. I didn’t hear a thing but pure sound,” she said.

Margaret Hamamoto, the theater’s marketing and development director, said she was just glad that the team had been able to open the Argyros on schedule.

“There are still nuts and bolts to be put in, steps, a few other things. But I’m glad it came together as well as it did.”

SEE IT YOURSELF

The Argyros Performing Arts Center in Ketchum will hold a second open house today--Sunday, Nov. 25.

The public can tour the building from noon to 4 p.m. Free theaterand comedic performances will be offered from 2 to 4 p.m. They will include performances from Laughing Stock Theater, St. Thomas Playhouse, The Spot, Cowboy Poet Bryan Dilworth, stand-up comics Hailee Lenhart-Wees and Katherine Lizarraga and a TEDx-SunValley talk from Sun Valley adventurer Gerry Moffatt about his work in Nepal.

 

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