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Barking Legs Theater will show off its new look with a party Friday night. The evening includes dance music, videos documenting the venue's 20-year history and a cake to commemorate the renovations.

Even many of Ann Law's board members have not seen the results of the renovation work that has been done at Barking Legs Theater. They, along with everybody else, will get the chance on Friday night, Oct. 24, when she and husband/co-owner Dr. Bruce Kaplan host an open house to show off the new space.

What visitors will find is a more open lobby with a bar and seating, an upgraded sound system, easier access to the seating in the presentation area and to the bathrooms, an outdoor stage and seating area and a much more flexible facility overall.

"The whole thing is really about flexibility," says Kaplan.

That has been their philosophy since opening the place 20 years ago. In that time they have adapted their own focus on what Barking Legs should be, taking it from a dance presentation venue to a dance studio with classes to a music presentation venue.

Ongoing, they will focus on performances and being a place where people are inspired to create, Law says.

"We want people to come here and be inspired."

Work began on the reno in late July, canceling shows and classes. About $156,000 was raised for the work - some in private support from community foundations Benwood and Lyndhurst, some from a grassroots fundraising campaign through Causeway.org.

Starting at 6:30 p.m. Friday, cake will be served and the bar will be open, but mostly the evening is about checking out the new digs, Kaplan says.

"The renovation has been all about enhancing our audience's experience at Barking Legs," he says. "People expect expansion, but we are actually more intimate, but with greater comfort and more amenities. I don't want to spoil the fun you'll have discovering Barking Legs 2.0, so you'll have to come on down to see for yourselves."

Performances resume the next night, Saturday, Oct. 25, with Out of the Frying Pan, an evening of music and storytelling by Nancy Brennan-Strange and Mark Lamb, with a special appearance by Law. The show starts at 8 p.m. Admission is $10.

For more information on BLT's upcoming roster of events, go to www.barkinglegs.org or call 423-624-5347.

Contact Barry Courter at bcourter@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6354.

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