Donors get exclusive look at Dorothy W. McClure Theatre tonight

sokamoto@ledger-enquirer.comOctober 24, 2013 

The Atlanta Braves have The Ted, or Turner Field.

The Springer Opera House's Theater Academy now has The Dot, or the Dorothy W. McClure Theatre. For the first time, the Springer Children's Theater has a designated space just for its productions.

Tonight's dedication is for the donors who made the capital campaign a success. The public will get an opportunity to see the theater on Nov. 14, when "California Dreaming" officially opens.

The $11.5 million capital campaign began in 2010 and reached its goal in February.

"A lot of people made this theater possible and the remarkable thing about it was that our capital campaign was conducted in what is commonly called the Great Recession," said Paul Pierce, the Springer's producing artistic director. "Nearly everyone we went to during this campaign said yes when we went to ask. … It all started in 1996 when Ron Anderson joined our organization (as director of the Theater Academy and associate artistic director). He has rearranged the molecules inside the Springer Opera House and brought children and families here."

Pierce said he and the director of development, first Sara Ketchum (who is now executive director of the Columbus Symphony Orchestra) and later Cameron Bean (now director of development with the San Jose Repertory Theatre), went to potential donors and told them how the Springer could expand the capacity of the theater to reach children, who when they grow up become audience members and donors themselves.

Besides the theater, the money went to create new classrooms and support space for the Theater Academy and add needed money to the endowment fund for maintenance of the Springer, which was built in 1871.

The theater was slated to open in October but it wasn't quite ready.

"We couldn't open it until we did it right," Pierce said. "We had to remember that we are establishing a brand new cultural destination, and we couldn't take that lightly. And we are having this dedication to the donors first. It's appropriate because what they did was something extraordinary."

Pierce didn't want to forget those who actually built the theater, so on the invitation list were the subcontractors and all the construction workers.

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