To be or not to be. More than a line from Shakespeare, that phrase characterizes the challenging path the Southern Kentucky Performing Arts Center followed to get where it is today.
More than a decade ago, some forward-thinking patrons of the arts formed the SKyPAC board of directors, dedicated to bringing a state-of-the-art facility to Bowling Green. But even some of them admit, there were times they weren't certain SKyPAC would be or not be.
"We've been waiting for 12 years to have a home," said Orchestra Kentucky Music Director Jeff Reed, "and we finally have one in SKyPAC and we're really excited about the opening."
And what a home it is! Orchestra Kentucky got its first look at SKyPAC when they helped "tune the hall" on Valentine's day, and it was love at first sight!
"Everything was falling together," Reed said. "Things that we had struggled with in our other hall suddenly was a piece of cake. It just wasn't a problem and you could see it on the musicians' faces. They said, 'finally we've arrived in a hall that really enhances what we do as an orchestra.'"
"I mean the clarity was there," said SKyPAC Production Director Christopher "CJ" Johnson. "I walked to a bunch of different places. The sound levels were very similar wherever I was at. I know because of the acoustics it's gonna be amazing for some of the Broadway tours to come through here, ya know. And I think word's gonna get around in the musical theater community across the nation that this is a great place to be to perform."
Christopher Johnson should know. He has more than 30 years experience in professional theater all over the country. He left his home in Raleigh, North Carolina to literally "get in on the ground floor" of SKyPAC.
"They didn't have any of the finish on any of the walls," said CJ. "None of the curtains were in, none of the seats were in. The stage was blank. It was a big concrete pad basically. And within a few weeks it just began morphing, and this became wide open so we could really see the size of it and the clarity of what it was gonna be. And they ended up starting putting in seats, they put the floor in for the stage, started hanging curtains, doing all the rigging, which is my favorite part, ya know, cuz it's the stage stuff. Ha,ha."
For CJ. creating SKyPAC truly is a labor of love. "It's the same as doing theater. Even if you do the same show for months on end, every performance is different. It's the same thing with this place. Every day something is different, and it's just, it's amazing."
And as excited as C.J. is to be here, he's just as excited for the people of Bowling Green, because he says SKyPAC belongs to them. "Out there's the lobby," said Johnson. "That's a community living room, ya know. People can come by any time and just sit out there and relax, read a book, ya know. I think they're putting a coffee bar out there so you can have a cup of coffee, ya know. It belongs to the public. It really does."
And the public gets its first chance to enjoy SKyPAC March 10, when Leann Rimes performs on opening night! "We musicians will have the best seat in the house,' said Jeff Reed, "because we will be able to look out and see all those people who have anticipated like we have, that opening night."
"It is an amazing facility, Johnson said. "I mean, it's SKyPAC, ya know, it's up there. We reached high and we hit he sky and just, that's what this place is."