Work on the Manatee Performing Arts Center is heading into the home stretch and on-time completion seems certain, even with a significant new addition.
"It'll be open by the first week of August," said Denny Miller, marketing manager for the Manatee Players.
That's a significant target date because the Manatee Players' highly anticipated production of "Les Miserables," a mammoth musical set to kick off the company's first full season in the new center Aug. 8.
Company officials expect all construction to be completed by then, but even if it's not, it won't affect "Les Miz." The performance space has been completed for months, and the Manatee Players have already produced two shows there.
Patrons who haven't visited the building since last season will notice a significant change: A corridor has been added to the west side of the building.
"Essentially, we put a roof over the sidewalk on that
side," Miller said. "It's a corridor that will allow people with wheelchairs and walkers to get from the lobby to the lower level of seats without waiting in line for the chair lift."
That wasn't in the original plans, Miller said, but company officials saw the need. Even with the addition, Miller said construction remains within budget.
Although "Les Miserables" is by far the biggest event coming up at the Manatee Performing Arts Center in the coming weeks, Manatee Players will also hold two aerial dance and flying camps, one for youngsters and one for grownups.
Camp participants will learn wire flying ("like Peter Pan," Miller said), aerial dance, in which they perform while suspended on pieces of fabric, and trapeze skills,
The first camp, for ages 7 to 12, is set for July 22-26. Enrollment is limited to 25.
The second camp, from July 29-Aug. 2, is for ages 13 and up and limited to 35 campers.
Miller said the second camp had been restricted to people 18 and under, but there was so much demand from adults organizers eliminated the age limit.
The fee for each camp is $300. Sessions run from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. daily with a performance at the end of each camp.
Camps will be conducted by Hall Associates Flying Effects, a nationally recognized company that has created theatrical flying effects for everything from high school productions to major Broadway shows. They'll be doing that for the Manatee Players' coming production of "Peter Pan."
To enroll, call the Manatee Players ticket office at 941-748-5875. Questions about the camp should be directed to Rick Kerby at 941-748-0111.