The Nederlander Organization recently unveiled the renovation of the Lunt Fontanne Theatre, new home of Disney's Beauty and the Beast. The extensive design project has dramatically altered the theatre's image.
Work on the Lunt-Fontanne took place on an accelerated schedule from June to October, when the theatre was dark. Despite the speed of the work and other constraints, the renovation succeeded in addressing some key issues. The scope of the work at the Lunt-Fontanne involved an overall interior redesign for the theatre; a decorative paint scheme for the orchestra, entry lobby, main lobby, mezzanine and mezzanine lobby; a survey of public spaces like the lobbies and rest rooms; and architectural lighting designs including treatments and modifications to existing chandeliers and sconces.
The most dramatic changes are visible in the auditorium itself. The challenges, according to Roger Morgan, Ann Sachs and Mariuca Brancoveanu of Sachs Morgan Studio (SMS), were to make the orchestra seem more intimate (especially in the orchestra from behind the balcony) and to brighten the theatre and relieve the monochromatic effect that had existed there since the last renovation in the mid-'50s.
One problem facing the design team was that the existing blue chairs had to stay, as did the blue carpet. SMCS opted to use moldings and lighting motifs to give three dimensional breaks to the long ceiling under the balcony, which in turn gave the rear of the orchestra a sense of design and intimacy.
The designers also added lighting and color contrasts to offset and compliment new themes. To better define the balcony, a nonessential four-foot section running the width of the balcony overhang was removed. Later, a molding treatment was added to help patrons sense exactly where the balcony ends. At one point, stagehands Richie Tatersall, Dennis Sabella, Terry Taylor and house manager Kip Makkonen assisted in developing a decorative scroll pattern along the vertical edge of the balcony facing the stage.
Throughout the theatre, sconce and panels have been painted or treated with artistic themes aimed at improving light play while lifting the sense of elegance in the house to a new level.
Patrons may also notice the improved rest room facilities, with additional stalls provided for women in addition to general renovation on the second floor lobby, which was also completely redone.