Regent Theatre announces auditorium restoration project

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Regent Theatre announces auditorium restoration project
Regent Theatre announces an auditorium restoration project that will take place in the spring of 2023. ALEX FILIPE
Regent Theatre announces an auditorium restoration project that will take place in the spring of 2023. ALEX FILIPE

Restorations to the heritage building located in Picton will take place in the spring of 2023.

With the generous support of dedicated community members including the Lanny & Catherine Huff of the Huff Family Foundation, Herb Pliwischkies of Quinte ReMax Ltd., Steve Van Dusen of Tri-Canadian Energy and associates, The Regent Theatre will proceed with an auditorium restoration project in spring 2023.

The Regent’s recent Accessible Seating Terrace renovation highlighted the need for the auditorium’s cement floor to be repaired and re-finished. Water damage sustained over the years by ceiling leaks (now fixed) as well as significant water damage caused by the change in water flow patterns resulting from ongoing construction in the vicinity has caused the floor paint to peel and the cement to deteriorate.

“The Regent Theatre is a heritage building which we have a duty to preserve,” said Benjamin Thornton, board chair. “It is critical that steps be taken to repair the floor before irreparable damage occurs.”

The restoration plan, which will be overseen by Tidy Man Construction, includes refinishing the cement floor with an impermeable membrane to protect the floor from future water incursion and improve its long-term durability.

The Regent is pleased to announce that Huff Family Foundation has contributed $8,000 towards the repair of the auditorium floor. Matching funds totalling $16,000 have been provided by individual donors to the Regent’s recent seat sale.

Restoring the floor necessitates removing all the fixed seats. The Regent has therefore capitalized on this opportunity to replace the entire inventory of fixed auditorium seats with new-to-the-Regent seats.

The current seating, which were purchased used in 2010, while serviceable, no longer matches the Art Deco aesthetic of the space and discomfort is a regular source of complaint amongst patrons.

New seats have been acquired from a theatre going out of business. Staff say that the new seats are a perfect colour match to the new “Regent Red” of the walls, and of a quality that will last, with plush velvet sprung seats, padded arms and black metal backs. While used, these seats are in excellent condition.

Auditorium seats retail for between $800-$1200/ea. The Regent says that they have acquired seats at a fraction of that price.

The total cost of the restoration project including re-surfacing the auditorium floor, purchasing the new seats, as well as installing brass donor name plates on seats and cup holders is approximately $54,000.

The purchase of seats has been made possible by the generous donations of Herb Pliwischkies, Steve Van Dusen and associates, who have pledged $20,000 towards the project. A commemorative plaque marking this contribution will be displayed in the auditorium on completion of the project.

“As a kid who grew up in Picton, I remember Louise Cook and what fun we all had going to the Regent on weekends. Uncomfy seats didn’t matter to us young ‘uns then but they sure do now. It is tremendously important for me to be able to support the Cook’s legacy of providing entertainment to the County at the Regent Theatre,” said Pliwischkies. 

The Regent is planning a two-week closure of the auditorium for the restoration project between March 27 – April 14.

“In order to survive in an ever-changing entertainment landscape in the County and beyond it is critical that we celebrate what makes us unique: our heritage. Our lobby bar and accessible seating terrace renovation combine to embrace our Art Deco heritage and uplift the experience of attending the Regent. This upgrade to our auditorium floor and seating takes us closer to restoring the venue to its heritage and securing the Regent’s future,” said Alexandra Seay, executive director.

Sample seats are on display in the Regent lobby.

In Spring 2023 the Regent plans to auction the existing inventory of seats and used theatrical goods in order to make up the remaining $10,000, required to complete the project.

For those looking to contribute to the project, the Regent Theatre has ways to donate:

  • Buy a seat: 20 named seats still available by emailing alexandra@theregenttheatre.org – $200/ea
  • Make a donation: Donations over $20 receive a charitable tax receipt and are accepted via Canada Helps or by cheque to The Regent Theatre Foundation.