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The 44,000-square-foot, $16 million facility will have a main theater with seating for 450, a ‘black box’ teaching theater with about 130 seats, a dance studio and large rooms for orchestra, band and choral groups.

A ray of diving light for St. Margaret's enters the new performing arts center.

By DAVID BRO / SPECIAL TO THE REGISTER

SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO- (CA)- St. Margaret’s Episcopal School Headmaster Marcus Hurlbut, who oversees 1,240 students across preschool, primary, middle and upper divisions, says he feels blessed that only a small family of skunks has managed to interrupt the school’s construction of a 44,000-square-foot performing-arts center on its San Juan Capistrano campus.

“The construction superintendent got chased out of the building one night by the skunks,” Hurlbut said. “We are sure they are still living on the campus somewhere … we have quite a nocturnal population.”

St. Margaret’s 44,000-square-foot performing-arts center is scheduled for completion in May.
DAVID BRO, FOR THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER

At a time when many segments of education, business and government are cutting back, St. Margaret’s students, parents and supporters have responded to the theater project with a can-do attitude, Hurlbut said. “We’re building, and we have people who buy into it – literally.”

When completed at the end of May, the new facility is to have a main theater with seating for 450, a more intimate “black box” teaching theater with about 130 seats, a dance studio and large rooms for orchestra, band and choral groups.

SEE A SLIDE SHOW HERE.

School arts director Darcy Rice said the center will feature 11 soundproof practice rooms for tutoring and instruction in a design in which even the lobby will be put to work showing off students’ artwork.

“St. Margaret’s values the arts, and for students, it’s essential that it’s studied.” Rice said. “The faculty works hard so that students are in some way touched by the arts. We want students to be artistically involved … to experience art.”

It all starts here.

For students in behind-the-scenes roles such as stage design and prop building, a large shop, work area and scenery storage room will sit alongside a costume-making room for the school’s productions and a rental program in which St. Margaret’s provides costumes for other productions across the county.

On Monday afternoon, workers assembled metal-framed free-floating “clouds” which, when installed high above the main stage and lined with wood, will have electric controls used to “tune” and enhance sound according to the performance.

Details like that, as well as a central audio control room where students will be able to record with professional quality, bring the price tag for the center close to $16 million and the construction time to more than a year.

Practice makes perfect.

Hurlbut said the center, contracted to Torrance-based Del Amo Construction, is on schedule and on budget.

Though St. Margaret’s expects to get the keys to the new building in May, the school will spend the summer afterward moving in. It has not set a firm schedule for productions. Hurlbut and Rice hope to work in community events as well as school performances.

“We’re not sure exactly what it will be yet, but I know it will be good,” Hurlbut said.

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Ryan Moore(second from left)leads the clean up of the \

 When I was coming down the freeway on Sunday afternoon, southbound, I saw the big “SC” was a little brighter there on the hill above the football field.  A closer look revealed 6 or 7 people grouped around it in the midst of repair and cleanup.  It was late and I wanted to go home although I saw the obvious photo brewing above Thalahassa field. 

 

I pulled off the freeway and wound my way to the old Ole Hanson Elementary parking lot and made my way to where I best thought I could get to where they were working.  Hoping that I wouldn’t arrive just in time to see them getting in their cars to go home, I was relieved to see they were still hard at work.

 

I climbed down and shot some photos as I came up but the letters are much larger than you would think and I found the shots I had taken were little anti-climatic.  Never the less, the clean-up and painting looks great and just in time for graduation next week.

 

Ryan Moore (second from left), a San Clemente High School freshman has made the spruce up of the letters, his Eagle Scout project.  He was there with his twin brother and a few pals, in addition to mom and dad and another parent.  They had photos of before and during and really it’s been a lot of work.  The letters not only needed painting but some structural cement work as well.  They had weeded as well and the final phase will be to plant something like iceplant around it to highlight it even more.  They had a yearbook as reference and were commenting on what the original story was behind the letters.

 

I don’t have the details on the letters but I seem to remember from my brother’s yearbook (class of 1968) a photo of all the sports team captains arranged around the letters in all their rayban glory.  I thought to arrange the guys in something similar but then the way the lined up looked more natural and so we went with it.  As an alumnus of SCHS, it was fun to see their spirit and dedication to the project.

 

I got home and sent the photo with info to Fred Sweggles, the main reporter for the Sun Post News.  I’m freelance and so unless I am assigned a shoot, I don’t know if it will be in or not, but then shooting spot news like this is encouraged.  It didn’t go up on the web but then when I got the paper this morning it was on the 6th page or so.

 

When I was leaving, the afternoon was giving way to evening, shadows were softening and arms were tired.  I wondered how many total graduates SCHS has turned out over the years.  I think my class, 1982, was something like 365 but I can’t remember.   It’s probably the only club I belong to.

 

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