Posted 25 November 2009 - 04:46 PM
As I climbed the stairs to the orchestra level for NYCB's Opening Night, I was greeted by an artist friend who gasped, "Isn't the theater beautiful?!" (perhaps in other words). I hadn't yet seen anything much beyond the lobby, and in fact, indicated to him the offending shower curtain around the box office windows. But indeed, everything in the public areas, had been cleaned up. The new carpeting, a brighter red, has a nice tone-on-tone pattern of an open weave. Inside the auditorium, the seats are quite different.
I was immediately aware that I was sitting on less cushioning than previously, but I wouldn't call it uncomfortable. I went to hang the strap of my bag over my armrest, and unlike in other theaters (including the old NYST), it instantly slipped off. I removed my jacket and tried to tuck the sides behind the seat, but the seatbacks are too close together, and perhaps only a cotton shirt could fit in that space. It's going to be very interesting to see how patrons cope once winter and heavy coats arrive. Call me fussy if you will, but it seems important practical matters have been overlooked, even though I realize the seat design is all in the cause of better acoustics (too good, since I could hear human activities halfway across the Fourth Ring).
Some years ago, some intelligent person -- a woman, no doubt -- got the great idea of redesigning the 4th Ring Ladies' Room to double the number of stalls. Even this did not completely eliminate the lines, but we no longer worried about wasting a whole intermission waiting. This resulted in a somewhat cramped sink area, and opposite that a "dressing table" where we could fix hair and makeup. It was not ideal, but it was a practical response to an everyday problem.
Now, we've lost the primping area and all those extra stalls, inside of which there aren't even little shelves for our programs. If a woman is carrying a clutch with no strap, she'll have to figure out how to manage with one hand or place her bag on the floor. Tiny detail, and in the scheme of the cost, I think they could have found a way to give us shelves.
Also, they've installed those powerful blowers to dry our hands. Three weeks after the theater opened, the one I tried first was out of order. I've also heard that without regular, thorough cleanings, they are unsanitary. Unless the custodial staff has undergone a similar renovation, remembering empty soap dispensers, I can almost guarantee that they won't be.
The bathroom looks sleek and modern, but I don't think most of us use it for the opportunity to admire the design.
I'm sure that the technical upgrades of lighting, the orchestra elevator, etc., etc., will enhance the company's experience, and maybe even ours. But somehow, practical details which may seem small to the audience but are not, were inexplicably overlooked.
I am not happy.