Riverview Theater and Hall has been closed for the past 14 months primarily for ADA upgrades mandated by the Federal Government. All municipally owned properties were required to be upgraded regardless of building type, theaters included.
One of the most significant (and likely to be the most appreciated) improvements are to the Restrooms. Rendering the bathrooms fully accessible triggered the need to comply with current plumbing code. The current plumbing code requires significantly more toilets than were originally provided fifty years ago. As such, the Ladies’ toilet count has tripled in the theater, meaning much shorter lines at intermission!
The theater itself also required substantial modifications. All ground level seating was removed and replaced with new. Additionally, ADA dedicated seating areas were dispersed throughout the theater, not just at the back, which used to be acceptable solution.
An elevator was added for both access to the stage and to the orchestra pit and rehearsal area below stage. All areas of the building are now fully accessible except for the upper balcony. Oddly enough, access to the upper balcony was not required, and the monies available for that renovation would likely not have supported the requirement. However, at the request of a long-standing theater goer, handrails were provided in the aisles of the upper balcony to assist in seat access, which was previously described as, “scary at best”. You’re welcome, Mrs. Weiss!
Counters throughout were lowered for appropriate ADA height, as were handrails at steps. Door hardware was replaced with lever-type hardware in lieu of knob-type. A ramp was added to connect the Theater to the Hall. Before this, if you wanted to access the Hall from the Theater, one had to exit the Theater Lobby to the outside of the building, then re-enter the Lobby of the Hall.
In addition to the required ADA upgrades, minor aesthetic improvements were made to the Theater Lobby. The VIP Lounge in the Lower Lobby was replaced with a new accessible version that includes more space and permanent bar equipment for serving patrons. A permanent Bar was added in the Theater Lobby as well. It also has permanent built-in equipment, rendering service easier and faster than using temporary tables and ice chests.
A new box office was added to provide exterior access and a show manager work space. All of the dressing rooms have been renovated with new counter space, mirror, toilet facilities, and lights. New “star” dressing rooms were renovated and include ADA compliant restrooms.
Lastly, the theater rigging system has been upgraded. The 50 sets of ropes that hold everything from scenery, to lights to speakers, were original to the building. All ropes have been replaced, alleviating the safety concerns of the end users who have been concerned for quite some time.
In addition, the restrooms in RiverView Hall have been updated and are compliant with all codes. In addition the Hall was painted, tile floors have been replaced with polished concrete, and a multipurpose room was added in the lobby.
With a budget of roughly $2.6M, all required ADA improvements were achieved along with a hand full of visual improvements to the interior. Will someone walk into the Lobby and believe they are in a brand-new theater or Hall ? No. A lot of the improvements will never be seen or even noticed by the average patron. But the theater can now continue to operate without fear of closure.
The first show scheduled to enjoy the renovated Riverview Theater will be the Shreveport Opera's production of Man of La Mancha on Saturday, November 9. For more information or to purchase tickets, please visit: https://www.shreveportopera.org/