Maranatha students who entered the gymnasium for chapel at the conclusion of spring break were surprised to discover that the west wall had been painted tan and the stage had a new decorative oak frame.
It was a big project that had resulted in a big improvement.
“Before, it was just a hole in the wall,” technical director James Wright said of the stage, “but now it’s actually framed and defined.”
Planning for the project began in January of 2010 when plans were being made for Dr. Marty Marriott’s installation as College president.
“The question was ‘How do you make a dignified event happen in the gym?’ ” explained Dr. Jeff Crum. “The solution was to focus the attention on the stage to make the walls and other gym equipment disappear.”
To make that happen, Facilities Management carpenter John Maxfield designed and built a custom oak frame to fit the stage opening, including an oak veneer plywood centerpiece featuring Maranatha’s motto, To the Praise of His Glory. Maxfield worked 10-hour days without interruption to complete the frame’s installation during spring break. The stage crew painted about 1,800 square feet of the wall tan.
Maxfield said he used a design that was similar to small columns he had constructed in former Maranatha faculty member Bob Radford’s house. The gymnasium columns are 18 feet tall, and the span is 42 feet, 6 inches. Maxfield and graduate assistant Andrew Solarek installed the finished product.
“I wasn’t overwhelmed,” Maxfield said. “It was similar to other projects I had done, just much bigger. I was able to build it in my head first, then on paper. Nothing got torn up during the process, so none of the wood had to be thrown away.”
In addition to the frame, two 10-by-14-foot screens now flank the stage, accompanied by hanging projectors with eight times the power of the old projector. The old screen has been moved to the back of the gym, enabling it to function as a confidence monitor for chapel speakers.
The new frame and screens gave the gym a classier appearance and added to the dignity of the May 4 Commencement.
“When people walk in, they see an auditorium rather than a gym with a stage,” Wright said. “The big thing with the proscenium (the portion of the stage in front of the curtain) is that it focuses the audience. From the production point of view, it means that the sets have to cater to the frame, not the stage.”
Because dramatic productions will now have to coordinate with the frame, Wright says he believes future sets will have a better sense of coherency. The recent college musical Anne of Green Gables began the new era of Maranatha set construction, requiring a set redesign because the stage opening is now four inches lower. Although the original set design called for an intricate set of green gables around the stage opening, Wright opted for a simpler accent atop the centerpiece.
“I love that Maranatha’s motto is right above the stage itself,” said sound technician Krista Landis. “It’s a constant reminder that anything that takes place on this stage should be for His glory and His glory alone.”
–By Deb Lew