LACONIA — With the restoration of the Colonial Theatre nearing completion, it has become apparent that the stage of the historic venue needs some significant, unanticipated, and costly repairs.
City Council Bob Hamel said the stage is seriously warped and will need extensive reconstruction in order to be suitable for the variety of performances the Colonial wants to host.
There is not enough money left in the $14 million restoration budget to pay for the extensive work, Hamel told the City Council Monday. He said he would be bringing a proposal to the council at its April 26 meeting.
He declined Tuesday to speculate on what the cost might be, explaining there were as yet no firm estimates from contractors. But Hamel noted that until now all the work needed to restore and update the 107-year-old theater has been done within the original budget.
The problem did not become apparent until recently because for many months the stage area was covered by scaffolding that had been erected so workers could restore the stenciling on the theater’s walls and ceiling, as well as plaster molding and decoration around the frame of the proscenium of the stage.
The warping apparently occurred after the Colonial was subdivided into a multiplex cinema in the 1980s. Two inches of concrete were poured on top of the stage before installing one of the five screening rooms. But the concrete was laid down without shoring up the stage floor underneath. As a result, the stage floor between original supporting timbers sagged under the weight of the concrete, Hamel explained.
He said officials from Spectacle Management, which will be managing the Colonial, advised that the undulating stage floor would scare off theatrical groups concerned that the uneven surface would make performing difficult and could even result in an accident.
Hamel expected that the stage flooring will have to be taken up in order to install a plywood subfloor. The hardwood floorboards would then be laid back down and sanded smooth. He said it could take two to three weeks to do the work.
The restoration work on the theater is expected to be completed sometime next month, he said.