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Final touches being put on renovated Yates Theatre before opening night

Click to play video: 'Final touches being put on renovated Yates Theatre before opening night' Final touches being put on renovated Yates Theatre before opening night
The City of Lethbridge is putting the finishing touches on the renovations at Genevieve Yates Memorial Centre. With only days before the first show, we sent reporter Kyle Benning to get a sneak peek at what changes the audience will see at the theatre – Sep 6, 2018

The stage is just about set for one of Lethbridge’s most historic buildings to be back under the limelight.

Contractors have been given the final call before the first show takes place at the renovated Yates Theatre.

“Everything has either got a new layer of paint or it is brand new, so there’s really not much left of the original theatre other than the skeleton that was left behind,” said City of Lethbridge recreation services manager, Jason Freund.

“It’s really amazing and I think the people are going to be thrilled to see what it looks like now compared to what it was before,”

Many of the changes make life easier for performers and people behind the scenes, but the audience was not forgotten about with larger, more accessible seating.

“You now have a little more elbow room to sort of sit comfortably instead of crammed in row to row,” building architect Elizabeth Songer said.

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But Songer said they had to reduce capacity in order to make the seats more comfortable.

WATCH: A look back at the history of theatre in Lethbridge

Click to play video: 'A look back at the history of theatre in Lethbridge' A look back at the history of theatre in Lethbridge
A look back at the history of theatre in Lethbridge – Jun 12, 2018

The budget for the project is $13.4 million and includes upgrades to the Sterndale Bennett Theatre as well as the Yates Theatre.

The city said it will have to make some further cosmetic changes once the Yates Theatre is open to the public.

The Sterndale Bennett Theatre is expected to open later this year.

READ MORE: City of Lethbridge hosts a renovation update on the Yates Centre

Lethbridge producers are eager to put on a show for locals and said the changes give them the ability to raise their standards.

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The New West Theatre’s Million Dollar Quartet will be the first show to premiere in the renovated building.

“We’re just really excited to be in here,” said general manager Derek Stevenson. “There’s a vibrancy going on within the company and in the city about getting into the Yates. So it’s been pretty exciting to actually be in here. We put our set up, we’ve been rehearsing in here. The seats look great. The lighting, the technical elements are amazing.”

The musical opens on Sept. 12 with nightly shows on Wednesdays to Saturdays until Sept. 29.

Saturday will also have a matinee.

The city said it is pleased with the way the project has come together noting it was desperately needed.

“A month before we had to shut down, our entire lighting system went down and we had to do emergency repair damage to actually run the show in the middle of the show. So it had gotten to that point that it was absolutely necessary,” Freund said.

READ MORE: New West Theatre set to hit the stage this September when Yates Theatre re-opens

City officials said the renovations are on time and on budget.

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Lethbridge taxpayers accounted for $3.6 million for the renovation, while the remainder of the bill was paid for by provincial and federal grants.

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