By Joan Koehne
Owner of Writer to the Rescue
The Byng Community Theater in Abrams will install new seating for its audience, thanks to an $11,535 grant from the Leon H. and Clymene M. Bond Foundation. Abrams Spotlight Productions will replace the theater’s church pews with more comfortable and versatile chairs.
According to Bond Foundation Executive Director, Jennifer Hanna, the project was selected for funding because of the theater’s significance in the community.
“The foundation’s board of directors recognized Abrams Spotlight Productions as a great creative outlet for the local community as well as an entertainment venue for people of all ages,” she said.
“The board was also impressed with the dedication and hard work of the many volunteers who are responsible for the success of Abrams Spotlight Productions. The board felt the theater seating will improve not only the function of the theater but also allow Abrams Spotlight Productions to better serve the community.”
“We are so grateful to be selected for a Bond Foundation grant,” said Bill Koehne, president of Abrams Spotlight Productions. “These chairs will provide added comfort for our patrons and the opportunity for us to better utilize our space and more easily accommodate patrons with disabilities.”
The 200 new chairs will replace all 22 pews in the church, plus three rows of metal folding chairs. The new chairs are solidly built, durable, washable, and stackable.
The grant also provides funding for the flooring to be cleaned and prepped before the new chairs are installed. In order to keep costs to a minimum, volunteers will remove the pews and install the chairs. The renovations will take place in late December or early January, and the church pews will be available for purchase.
The pews are remnants of the building’s previous use as St. Louis Catholic Church. The facility, home to Abrams Spotlight Productions since 2007, has undergone a series of transformations that include the construction of a stage with modular set booms, backstage dressing rooms, a concession stand, and a light, sound, and projections booth.
The new seating is scheduled to be unveiled Feb. 15, 2018, at a joint Oconto Falls/Oconto Chamber of Commerce event. Patrons attending the spring performance of “Singing in the Rain” will be the first to sit in the new chairs. The show will be performed March 16-18 and March 23-25.
The cast and crew is currently rehearsing for “Meet Me in St. Louis,” a classic holiday musical to be presented Dec. 1-3 and Dec. 8-10 at the Byng Community Theater, 5852 Maple St. in Abrams.
The Leon H. and Clymene M. Bond Foundation is a family-endowed foundation committed to the growth and improvement of Oconto County and its surrounding areas. The foundation was established in 1993 by Leon Bond (benefactor of the foundation and founder of the Bond Pickle Company) and Earl DeCloux.