Behind the Scenes: The Tennessee Theatre

Behind the Scenes

Beauty is all around you at the Tennessee Theatre. Painted masterpieces are everywhere and they’re always in pristine shape, maintained by a local artist named Robin Surber.

“She goes around the entire building and looks at all the paint. She looks for any little nicks in the paint, any scratches, if any of the paint looks like it’s fading she goes around and touches it all up,” said Lila Honaker with the theater.

Comfort and lighting are equally as important. On average, Honaker says utility bills add up to $13,000 a month, which is easy to understand when you see the huge air conditioning unit in the basement.

For a theater to work well, you also need to have access to more than just the stage. On the other side of a door in the women’s restroom are some special tunnels.

All around the Tennessee Theatre are tunnels and they really open up once you crawl inside. The idea is if you have a plumbing problem or an electrical issue, someone can get in there and fix it.

There’s another maze below the auditorium for the performers.

“People get a little turned around, It’s a little disorienting sometimes. you’ve got a lot of things going different places, different dressing rooms, so we have directional signage down here just to help people figure out where they’re going,” said Honaker.

That includes places like the catering room or the green room, which artists sometimes change to make it feel more like home.

“You’ll walk in here and see tapestries on the wall, or flowers. They’ll rearrange the furniture, they may bring in some things to make it feel more like home. This is a landing spot for them when they’re here,” said Honaker.

Lights, of course, enhance the theater experience, and the Tennessee Theatre doesn’t disappoint – fom light sequences controlled in a high-up booth to all the light bulbs that cause the beautiful suspended dome in the auditorium to glow.

In all, there are 5,400 light bulbs in the marquee and vertical sign on the front of the building and over 7,000 light bulbs in the building – and that doesn’t include backstage fluorescent or LED lighting in the auditorium and the light bulbs on the stage – all of which have to be checked and replaced in order for the theater to maintain its majestic glow.

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