Since the day after our Christmas shows closed, the Clarence Brown Theatre Box Office has been in exile — in the lowest-level dungeon of the CBT (the computer lab), and partly in the booth of the Carousel Theatre. OK, we weren’t sent away for punishment (I don’t think…), but for a good reason — the CBT Lobby has been undergoing renovation!
Yep, the CBT was pretty spiffy when it opened in 1970, but it’s seen little change since then. It looked like 1970. It was past due updating, and the powers that be finally got us the funds and the go-ahead to modernize things.
We started moving back in today — the new furniture for the Box Office back office hasn’t arrived yet, so we’re not totally in — hopefully tomorrow. However, the new “kiosk” or “peninsula” part that replaces the old ticket windows is ready to go, so feel free to walk right up (noon to 5 p.m. on non-show weekdays). The new design should help keep walk-up ticket sales and pickups neat and orderly, provide visibility for our House Managers, and provide some helpful separation between this front-office area and the Box Office back office.
The renovation goes way beyond the Box Office, of course — across the lobby, the Concession Stand also has a spiffy new counter, with things reorganized to serve our patrons more efficiently. We’ll continue to serve Coca-Cola products, coffee and hot cocoa, and more. In addition, it will be easier for patrons to purchase Clarence Brown Theatre branded merchandise — shirts, coffee cups, travel mugs, and perhaps some new surprises! Oh, and we still have Knoxville’s best crushed ice.
And there are good things underfoot — the front lobby floor — beautiful hard wood. We’ve also beefed up the lighting to beat away the former gloom. We’re putting up new signage to help people find their seats, and added some new furniture and updated seating.
We’re also adding several new HD TV monitors to our lobby walls. We’ll be able to display information about current and updated productions, showcase concessions and merchandise available, and recall past performances with show photographs. Most of all, we’ll be able to display (with sound) what’s happening on stage through a television camera trained on the action. We encourage all our patrons to arrive at the theatre on time, but we know that can’t always happen. In order not to disturb our patrons in the theatre (and the actors), we must sometimes ask late-comers to wait and enter at appropriate moments in the show. With the addition of this camera and monitors, they can keep up with things until it’s time to take their seats.
Some of the work is still ongoing, but we hope to have most of it completed by the opening of The Merry Wives of Windsor. We’re excited about this refreshment of our house. We think you will be too! Come and see us soon.