When Bob Nelson became involved with the Mesquite Community Theatre he had big plans. The first of those plans took place in 2008 with a complete gut and rebuild of the old school auditorium.
Nelson and other members of the Mesquite Community Theatre committee (MCT), a subsidiary of the Greater Mesquite Arts Foundation (GMAF), have been running the theatre for the city of Mesquite since the initial remodel. People on the committee have come and gone over the years but Nelson has remained. The city has retained its ownership of the theatre.
Even though Nelson wasn’t finished with the initial remodel, he took the funds as far as he could go back then. While the updates were good, they were limited. Nelson wasn’t satisfied with limited and has been working on raising funds for other improvements since that time. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to do anything major but it did add smaller improvements over the years such as the initial two scrims that were purchased and new speakers. The money raised for these smaller improvements was gathered through donations from theatre patrons.
Recently Nelson, co-manager of the MCT Bunny Wiseman and the MCT and were happy to have been granted money from the city’s Redevelopment Agency and the GMAF. Money for the theatre project is not coming out of city funds but a separate entity which is run by the city officials. With those funds came a memorandum of understanding with the city that the RDA funds were strictly for lighting upgrades. The city would retain all of the equipment and upgraded systems purchased for the project and do the structural work for the upgrades but Nelson, the MCT and the GMAF would continue to oversee the project and manage the theatre.
“Redevelopment agencies are a tool available to communities to help breathe new life into areas in need of revitalization, economic development and new opportunity. In 1995, the Mesquite City Council recognized the need to revitalize and reinvest in the downtown area of Mesquite and created the Redevelopment Agency of the City of Mesquite (RDA). Although the RDA is technically a separate legal entity from the city, the agency board is composed of the Mayor as Chair and the Councilmembers as members of the Board.”(City of Mesquite web site)
While talks with the groups who use the theatre and Glen Bjornson, VVTG Artistic Director yielded quite a few initial ideas and plans Nelson along with the other committee members hired Joshua Scott, Dixie State University’s Theatre Technical Specialist, as the final consultant on the lighting project which is now underway but lights aren’t enough. Nelson, theatre technicians, performers and the audience also need better sound but the RDA funds are only for the lighting project.
Again, Nelson, the MCT and the GMAF scrimped and saved up the funds to offer some help in that area.
The sound upgrades require very little as far as purchase; what was really needed was simply to reconfigure the way the speakers were hooked up to the system.
The technicians, performers and audience members have struggled for years with sound issues. Problems such as dead spaces, feedback and a mono-configuration were all issues with the old system.
The speakers will now be arranged so that they maximize the sound quality for the specific types of performances the theatre audiences enjoy.
At the present time there are speakers hanging right in front of the middle of the stage above the audience which doesn’t interfere with the patron’s line of sight but does interfere with the projector that was mounted on the ceiling behind them. Those speakers will be moved up and back so projection issues will be removed. Moving the speakers back will also allow the performers to come further forward on the stage without the feedback issues that at one time were very prominent. Some reconfiguration occurred earlier in the year that helped curb that issue a bit during the past season but there were still limitations.
The new sound configuration will also allow for bands to have the ability to hook their own equipment such as amplifiers and stage monitors into the theatre’s system as well.
The sound upgrades will optimize performances for vocalists, dialogue and instrumentals. What was once a mono-configuration can now be heard in stereo which, as most music buffs know, makes a world of difference in musical performances.
The final piece in the theatre upgrade will appeal to groups such as Friends of Gold Butte and DocUtah who use the theatre for showing films. The MCT and GMAF are purchasing and installing a larger front projection screen which will make watching movies in the MCT just like watching movies in a vintage movie theatre, on the “big screen.”
Wiseman continues to run the day-to-day operations of the theatre, marketing and scheduling performances; those wishing to schedule any events can contact her through the web site.
For more information on what’s coming to the Mesquite Community Theatre or if you’d like to book the theatre for your event or entertainment venture please visit the MCT web site at mctheatre.net.