Lockport’s Palace Theatre Nears Finish with $4 Million Renovations, Grand Reopening Set for May 1st

The Historic Lockport Palace Theatre is nearing the end of what will total around $4 million in renovations and upgrades, Executive Director Chris Parada shared in an interview with the Western New York Observer recently.  “It’s not only good for us in-house, but this makes it attractive to anybody and any producing company in the Western New York area,” he said of the project. 

Parada says the finishing touches will be completed by April, allowing for a grand reopening cash raffle on May 1st.  “They’ll come to get tours, do some different things, and have some food.  Just some fun stuff like that.”  He added, “Since there is no guidance, you can’t do a live show of any sort right now.  You can’t do concerts or plays.”

Although plays and concerts are currently without guidance, Lockport’s Palace has a full schedule from May until July 10th, hosting different dance organizations throughout Western New York.  “Typically, I have 4 dance studios in here, and now I have 12,” Parada said, explaining that dancing fits within the category of sports, providing him with the guidelines necessary to utilize the freshly finished theatre.  He added that places like UB, Buffalo State and Art Park, which usually host many of the dance studios that switched to Lockport’s Palace Theatre, have restricted facility use by outside groups.

The orchestra pit is now much deeper than before, with built-in circuitry to eliminate the use of extension cords.

Parada hopes by July that some sense of normalcy will have returned for the theatre industry, and guidelines will be presented so theatres can reopen in full swing.  Discussing the obstacles and unknowns in creating a show right now, he said, “Think of the components.  What do you do with all the musicians?  Do the musicians have to wear a mask?  How do you play a trumpet and wear a mask?  Do you have to be six feet apart?  How many people are allowed on stage?  What if everyone in the show agreed to be vaccinated?  There’s a lot of ‘what ifs’ right now.”

When indoor regulations for theatre companies are presented, Parada says Lockport’s Palace Theatre is more than ready.  Atop of having fresh paint to the ceiling’s historic murals, new carpets, new seats and handicap accessible platforms, the theatre comes with upgrades to enhance any production’s ability to fully captivate.  The stage has moved from a 6-bar rigging system to a 28-bar rigging system.  The orchestra pit has been lowered to eliminate visibility by the audience, and to be made level with the dressing room.  A lift has also has been added for the entrance of large set pieces. 

A new 28-bar rigging system. The original system was removed from the opposing wall, for need of a flat surface, and then elevated to allow for flow backstage.

“It’s just better,” Parada said of the theatre, adding about his updated rigging system, “I have – because it’s brand new – the most up-to-date system in Western New York.”