The Avalon Theatre in Easton, MD was originally constructed in 1922 and has remained a vibrant hub of community life for the nine-county Eastern Shore territory east of the Chesapeake Bay ever since. The venue hosts both nationally known and local performers in a variety of musical and dramatic theater contexts, as well as being equipped for banquets, cabarets, exhibitions, and ballroom dancing. The Avalon Foundation, which runs the Avalon Theatre as a 501(c)(3) charitable organization, secured the services of WSDG during a larger overall renovation initiative to update the theater’s acoustics, production lighting, and audiovisual capabilities, which ultimately resulted in WSDG being brought on to renovate the balcony as well.
Early in the renovation process, the Avalon Foundation retained WSDG to complete a master plan study of the long-term renovations. Those plans included theater expansion, A/V upgrades and balcony reconstruction. As the Avalon Theatre no longer screens movies as its primary source of revenue, its old projection booth was removed to allow for the reconstruction of the balcony along with upgrades to the spectators’ sight lines, comfort and safety. Key to this upgrade was that neither the seat count nor the acoustics of the balcony be compromised, while also improving the comfort, safety and visual experience of the audience.
WSDG took measurements to create extensive 3D models of the new balcony setup. The old projection booth’s walls, door and floor were removed, and dimmer racks, exhaust ducts, speakers and other elements were relocated or reappointed. Obstructing railings were replaced, and improved lighting was added for increased visibility. The balcony’s walkways were also given better tread depth and visibility, as well as height consistency for safety.
For better ergonomics, the balcony’s seats were widened and positioned to be focused on stage performers, rather than a screen. The team succeeded in increasing the newly designed balcony’s seat count to 219, while increasing the width of each seat by two inches and maintaining the excellent acoustics.
Finally, all the renovations were aesthetically consistent with the Avalon Theatre’s Art Deco motif.