“Mame,” the Broadway musical, is a triumphant show and just the right choice for the Sanford School Repertory Theatre Company as they take the stage this weekend inside the newly-opened Geipel Center for the Performing Arts. “Mame is the biggest show we have ever done,” said Clint Williams, chair of the Sanford Performing Arts Department. “It seemed fitting to unveil a hit like Mame on our new stage.”
Williams and Sanford Head of School Mark Anderson told audiences last night at the show’s opening that the 400+ seat theatre, with an orchestra pit and a balcony seating, was 30 years in the making. Sanford has a long tradition of offering a strong performing arts program to its students, yet the school had always used a small gymnasium with metal folding chairs for audiences for its performances. So in 2014 Anderson and a team of volunteers launched a capital campaign to raise funds for a new theatrical facility.
The improvements are profound. The state-of-the-art facility includes proper lighting, an acoustical system designed specifically for the space, plush seats, designated rooms for costume and prop storage, a music technology lab, and a dance room. The entire facility also includes a band room, choir room, two general music rooms, and six individual practice studios. “We are excited about finally having the proper spaces for our day-to-day programming,” said Williams.
The Mame cast, the first to enjoy the new theater amenities, delivered a phenomenal opening night performance last night to a sell-out crowd. Theatre-goers also marveled at the inviting new space.
While the new Geipel Center might be considered the crowning jewel, there are other newly-polished gems on campus that were included in the Front & Center campaign.
Pirnie Hall was reconfigured to create a permanent home for the Technology Department and provide a fully equipped STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) lab. Students from two divisions use the lab for a variety of math, science and visual art classes and cross curricular projects. The 3D printers have been very popular, and when combined with the drafting tables, laptops, and multipurpose classroom space, the students have many more opportunities to explore scientific topics, as well as design and engineering.
The du Pont Library sustained extensive water damage last winter due to a devastating flood, and its facelift has opened up this centrally located building and made it a campus showpiece. The addition of an outside deck offers an engaging place for classes to meet or students to gather to rest and recharge. Inside, the library has been transformed into a vibrant learning hub for both students and faculty. It is fully equipped with laptops and learning stations designed for 21st century learning. In keeping with this forward thinking, Sanford has become one of the first digital upper school libraries in the state. The lower level is home to a younger crowd—Lower School’s Extended Day Program. This dedicated space allows for increased programming and a wider array of learning and enrichment options for some of Sanford’s youngest students.
While the physical improvements on campus are dramatically evident, the goal was to offer students enhanced educational experiences. “Our campus is our greatest asset, and the care and attention we are giving our facility is emblematic of the strength of our program and teaching. Sanford is finding a way to create what our school and our students need,” said Head of School Mark Anderson.
Music teacher Cera Babb noted, “One of the biggest advantages to having a new building is giving the students a place that is worthy of what they are able to achieve. Students can now showcase their work in a space that makes them proud to share that special part of themselves.”
Everyone at Sanford, not just the 56 members of the cast and crew of Mame are singing the praises of the long awaited and richly deserved Geipel Center for Performing Arts. It is, in its own right, a true star. Bravo, Sanford!