Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Sangamon Auditorium, UIS gets new stage floor.

If the performance stage is considered the heart of an auditorium, Sangamon Auditorium is under-going a quadruple by-pass! For the first time since the hall opened in 1981 the stage floor is being replaced.

For many years now, the replacement of the stage floor has been a topic of discussion among Auditorium staff and University administration. But with the cost estimated around a quarter of a million dollars, difficult financial times for the state, and the need for other campus maintenance projects, the auditorium stage floor has not made the list of projects for several years in a row - until now! In late June, the first phase of removing the decking, or floor, began and within a few days, the auditorium took on a new look for the summer.

Why does a stage floor ever need to be replaced?

According to auditorium director, Bob Vaughn, stage floors generally have a life span of about 15 years. When patrons come to see a performance, the actual performance is all they generally see. What they miss is the load-in and load-out of gigantic events like the Broadway production Hairspray which spent a full day loading in three semi-tractor trailers worth of props, staging, rigging, lights, sound equipment, costumes, etc. It’s also common practice for larger shows with heavy, elaborate sets to secure them to the stage by lagging (screwing) into the wood floor. The holes that remain are filled once the show has gone, but some events leave up to 40-50 holes to fill. Also, accidents happen. A few years ago the fire curtain, a devise that is designed to protect audiences if there were ever a major fire on the stage during a performance, was accidently triggered. Thousands of gallons of water flooded the stage floor. The fact that the Auditorium floor made it almost 30 years is somewhat miraculous.

Just how big a project is it?

You can’t really appreciate the actual size of such a project unless you’ve had the chance to stand on the auditorium stage while it is completely empty. The total area of stage floor that is being replaced is 68’ from front to back and 114’ from side to side. That is almost 1/6th the size of a football field! As you can see in the pictures, the entire floor has been taken up. The decking (Southern Yellow Pine) will be placed on a layer of plywood that sits on what are called sleepers. The sleepers then sit on rubber pads. This design gives the floor a rigid feeling with a certain level of resilience that is especially important to dancers and other types of performances that incorporate acrobatics. As mentioned, the projected cost is around $250,000 - half of that coming from university appropriated maintenance funds and the other half generated though facilities fees which are part of the ticket prices at Sangamon Auditorium. The project will take about three months to complete start to finish and is scheduled to be done in late August – early September.

Image 1 - Plastic protecting seats and auditorium from dust.
Image 2 - Old Sangamon Auditorium floor.
Image 3 - Floor being removed in large sections
Image 4 - Bare concrete once majority of the floor was removed.
Image 5 - Section of floor. Notice the sleepers and rubber pads.
Image 6 - Bob Vaughn and auditorium staff leave our mark before new floor is installed.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Family Fun!

The 2009-2010 season at Sangamon Auditorium includes the Family Series, with three great shows that will help introduce your children to the three different areas of the performing arts (dance, music, and theater).

Dance -

Darwin the Dinosaur
Friday, October 16, 2009 - 7 p.m.

Corbian Visual Arts and Dance combines the telling of a heart-rendering story with a truly unique and innovative theater experience where electroluminescent crayon-like creatures light up the stage in a blackout setting.

Music -

Ralph's World
Saturday, January 23, 2010 - 11 a.m.

Ralph's World is equally loved by cool-seeking parents as it is by children, fortunate to be living in an era where their music both rocks and respects their intelligence and curiosity.

Theater -

Junie B. Jones
Friday, February 26, 2010 - 7 p.m.

Outspoken, precocious, and lovable Junie B. Jones stars in a colorful, funny, fast-paced musical about new friends, new glasses, sugar cookies, the annual kickball tournament, and other various first-grade angst-ridden situations.

Individual tickets for these events go on sale August 24, but if you want the complete experience of attending all three shows, you can save money and become a Family Series subscriber now! A Family Series subscription is $33 for children and $45 for adults. Just call the Ticket Office at 217.206.6160 or 800.207.6960.

As an added bonus, Sangamon Auditorium hosts free pre-show activities, including fun crafts and interesting demonstrations, beginning one hour before each Family Series show. To get a better idea of what we do during pre-show activities, check out these pictures from Goodnight Moon & The Runaway Bunny on January 30, 2009.

Petting a real bunny from Henson Robinson Zoo
Creating your own puppet to take home

Learning about the moon with UIS Astronomy professon John Martin

Thursday, July 9, 2009

2009-2010 Season Announced!

Photo: Academy of St. Martin in the Fields

We are pleased to announce the University of Illinois at Springfield’s 2009-2010 Performing Arts Season at Sangamon Auditorium! Several years ago, we would only announce the fall series at this time of year and then wait until December to announce the winter/spring series. A few years after that, our Broadway series would be announced at a time that was not aligned with the rest of the season announcement. Now we are happy to roll out the entire season at once so that you can see the broad array of options available across the entire year!

You can view the entire season at

Because there are so many options available, it is sometimes easy for patrons to be overwhelmed by it all. Here are some Frequently Asked Questions and Answers that should help clear things up and bring simplicity to the offerings:

What are series that comprise the Performing Arts Season?

Visiting Artists at UIS – This is a catch-all series that brings the best in music, theatre and dance from the U.S. and abroad to central Illinois. This year, the series includes 14 events from a variety of artists – from public radio storyteller and national treasure Garrison Keillor to world-renowned chamber ensemble Academy of St. Martin in the Fields and from cherished rock legend Brian Wilson to the visually stunning Ballet Folklórico de México.

Broadway at UIS – The 2009-2010 Broadway series includes a variety of classic Broadway musical favorites alongside some of the more recent hottest tickets on the Great White Way. Among the six events on the series are the 2004 smash-hit Avenue Q, family favorite The Wizard of Oz, and a return engagement of RAIN: A Tribute to the Beatles.

Family Series at UIS – The Family series provides the young (and the young-at-heart) the opportunity to experience quality live performing arts in a setting that is welcoming and interactive. These events are only one-hour in length and offer affordable ticket prices for family audiences.

So what kind of tickets can I buy right now?

Same-seat subscriptions are currently available for each of the three series. This year, we’ve made subscriptions more accessible than ever before. Here are the details:

Visiting Artists at UIS – Become a Visiting Artist subscriber by selecting at least 7 performances on the series. Enjoy the same seat and save up to 25% off regular ticket prices.

Broadway at UIS – The “Classic Series” includes Cirque Dreams Illumination, Cabaret, and The Wizard of Oz. Purchase of this package guarantees you the best seats and enables you to add on the additional Broadway events of your choosing before they go on sale to the public.

Family Series at UIS – With only three events on the series, a Family Series subscription is incredibly affordable. Subscriptions to the three-event series are $45 for an adult and $33 for a child (12 and under) – that’s about 25% off regular prices for the adult subscription and about 50% off the regular prices for the child subscription.

Call the Ticket Office at 217.206.6160 or 800.207.6960 for additional details or to purchase your subscription today.

But what if I want to purchase events from different series?

You are in luck! Our Create Your Own (CYO) package was designed for you! Beginning August 24, you can become a Create Your Own package buyer by purchasing tickets to 4 or more events across the entire Performing Arts Season. You will enjoy savings of up to 20% off many of your tickets and will have access to Broadway at UIS tickets before they are available to those wanting to purchase individual event tickets. We want the Create Your Own package to be flexible to fit your needs, so you may purchase varying amounts of tickets for each event in your Create Your Own package – some tickets could be for spouse “date night”, others for a night out with girlfriends, and still others for an event the entire family will enjoy!

Call the Ticket Office at 217.206.6160 or 800.207.6960 for additional details.

What if I just want to purchase tickets to a particular show?

At 10 a.m. on Monday, August 24, individual tickets go on sale for Visiting Artist and Family Series events. So if you just want Tommy Emmanuel tickets, or just Blind Boys of Alabama tickets, or any other single event on those series, August 24 is the day to mark on your calendar. Or give us your email and we’ll remind you ourselves! Tickets will be available for purchase both online, over the phone, and in person at the Ticket Office on August 24.

Broadway at UIS events are not available for individual ticket purchases until approximately six weeks prior to each event, but they *are* available as part of Create Your Own packages beginning August 24.

Call the Ticket Office at 217.206.6160 or 800.207.6960 for additional details.

Check this blog throughout the coming months for more information about the fabulous line-up of artists and events for our 2009-2010 Performing Arts Season!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

An Annual Tradition - Volunteer Recognition Picnic

On Sunday, June 28, Sangamon Auditorium staff and volunteers celebrated the conclusion of a successful season with the annual Sangamon Auditorium Volunteer Association (SAVA) recognition picnic. Each year, a picnic is held to thank our many volunteers who have helped make the season a success. As with any Auditorium event, it takes a lot of volunteers to make the picnic run smoothly. Many thanks to all who played some part in this day!

This year’s theme was the Lincoln Bicentennial, so the décor included stovepipe hats and red-white-and-blue splashes, as well as a log cabin that adorned the food table. Thanks to Barbara Wiese for all her hard work chairing the decorating committee.

While we ate, we were treated to musical entertainment by The Melody Men. That’s SAVA house manager Bob Oseland on the accordion!

The big moment of the event was the awarding of the I. Lawrence Camp Volunteer of the Year Award. The award went to Connie Speck, who has been a volunteer at Sangamon Auditorium for 7 years. Connie’s nomination forms, submitted by fellow volunteers, included comments such as: “She is very personable and interested in people”; “Always willing to help at any time and always smiling”; “She steps forward and does whatever is needed without hesitation”; “Always on time and ready to fulfill her duties”; and “Her positive attitude is obvious and a real attribute to the Auditorium”. Our many thanks go to Connie for her outstanding service to the University and the Auditorium.

We also recognized volunteers for landmark years of service. Volunteers recognized for completing 10 years of service were Kathy Blasko, Larry Edwards , Chuck and Judy Frank, Don Kinsel, and Larry Wassell.

Volunteers recognized for completing 15 years of service were Janice Catalano, Norma Duerr, Coletta Herrmann, Judith Hutchings and Rita Nortrup.

Volunteers recognized for completing 20 years of service were Susan Becker, Ed & Helen Brooks, and Pauline Denzer.

Volunteers recognized for completing 25 years of service were Charlie Becker, Wayne Huckabee, and Shirley McConnaughay.

Summer is a great time to join our volunteer corps; new volunteers can participate in annual training in August and join us as ushers beginning with the fall season. Please call the SAVA hotline at 206-8288 to indicate your interest, email us at or simply mark your calendar and plan to attend one of the two New Usher trainings scheduled for August:
Thursday, August 13 at 6:30 p.m.
Sunday, August 30 at 3:00 p.m.

Each session will be approximately 2 ½ - 3 hours in length and begins in the Sangamon Auditorium lobby. New volunteers need only attend *one* of the two sessions. Thanks to our many volunteers who have already encouraged their friends to join us. Word of mouth is our best way to recruit new volunteers!