published Tuesday, March 6th, 2012

Board OKs Cleveland High School theater remodel

Choir director Shirley Pace talks Monday about renovations that will be made in the Betsy Vines Little Theater at Cleveland High School. Part of the wardrobe area and stage entrance will be renovated to provide better handicap access for performers.
Choir director Shirley Pace talks Monday about renovations that will be made in the Betsy Vines Little Theater at Cleveland High School. Part of the wardrobe area and stage entrance will be renovated to provide better handicap access for performers.
Photo by Angela Lewis.

CLEVELAND, Tenn. -- Cleveland High School's spring musical will be presented in the dining area this month because the theater is an empty shell.

The Betsy Vines Little Theater, named for a late, beloved teacher, is getting new seating, sound, lighting and other items to bring it up to current building codes and make it handicapped accessible.

The Cleveland Board of Education approved the plans Monday, with an estimated cost of $268,000. Some other items will be optional to bidders, including acoustics-enhancing wall panels.

"You do what you have to do," said choir director Shirley Pace before the board meeting. "I would not stop these kids from having their musical."

The plan from Upland Design Group includes a wheelchair lift backstage for student actors as well as audience wheelchair spaces. Pace has sometimes physically carried handicapped students up backstage stairs to get them on stage. Once on stage, those students have to remain on stage.

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"I have several students who can become part of the productions," she said.

Pace and teacher Don Markham worked with Upland's Brian Templeton to keep the theater's 260 seating capacity.

The theater work is made possible, said board member Dawn Robinson, because city voters approved a sales tax increase two years ago.

Board member Steve Morgan said Monday the theater work has to be coordinated with another project approved by the board Monday, installing new heating and air conditioning for the high school's east wing, including the theater.

The board approved installation of heating and air units serving the theater, administration and part of the media center along with school offices and lobby.

Contact Randall Higgins at rhiggins@timesfreepress.com or 423-314-1029.

about Randall Higgins...

Randall Higgins covers news in Cleveland, Tenn., for the Times Free Press. He started work with the Chattanooga Times in 1977 and joined the staff of the Chattanooga Times Free Press when the Free Press and Times merged in 1999. Randall has covered Southeast Tennessee, Northwest Georgia and Alabama. He now covers Cleveland and Bradley County and the neighboring region. Randall is a Cleveland native. He has bachelor’s degree from Tennessee Technological University. His awards ...

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