In the Loop
Faculty News : Oct 31, 2014

Professor Stan Kaye leads theatre renovation at The Villages

By Elizabeth Boone

“My addiction is solving problems.” This has certainly come in handy for Lighting Design Professor and Senior Consultant of SK Design and Consulting LLC, Stan Kaye. Kaye’s firm is leading the construction of the new 1,000-plus seat Sharon L. Morse Performing Arts Center for The Villages.

“We tried to create a space big enough to accommodate modern technology, but not be a big barn,” Kaye said.

The community wanted more culture and an environment that could accommodate the talent they wanted. Kaye said although the space will be large, it will also have a level of intimacy. The performing arts center will be equipped to handle everything from one-person shows to big Broadway tours.

The new theatre will be combined with an existing church, which will be specially renovated to be included in the theatre’s design. While it was originally thought that the church area would only serve as the audience space, it has now become the lobby. The stage, backstage area and audience seating area are all new construction. These adjustments tripled the cost, but Kaye said for the scope of the project, the cost is still a modest number.

The renovation also includes the installation of a permanently sprung dance floor, architecture creating world-class acoustics and a computer-controlled rigging system. The rigging system is a very special aspect of the space because it replaces the manual counterweight rigging with a touchscreen computer. The system is the first of its kind, which was innovative to use.

“It made me a little nervous,” Kaye said, noting that he had his client’s trust, “But no risk, no reward.”

Kaye said working with the Morse family and other project collaborators has been a fantastic process.

“I feel good when working with a client who understands and wants excellence,” Kaye said.

The original feasibility plan was created four years ago, but discussions about the size of the venue put the project on hold for two years. The Villages officially broke ground on the project one year ago.

In addition to the project at The Villages, Kaye’s firm is also working on Cypress Creek High School in Orlando, the historical renovation of the Valerie Theatre in Inverness, Florida, the artistic lighting of the Big Max sculpture by John Henry in the UF Cultural Plaza and was recently contracted to do the renovation of the Andrew A. Robinson, Jr. Theater at the University of North Florida in Jacksonville, Florida. His firm also recently completed work on Dr. Phillips Performing Arts High School in Orlando. Kaye said five members of the firm have put about 1,000 hours of labor into the Sharon L. Morse Center for the Performing Arts so far, but Kaye said he has enjoyed every moment of it.

On having numerous projects in the works outside the classroom, Kaye said it’s his work with his design company that keeps him current for his students. Kaye believes he can’t be a credible teacher unless he’s doing something off-campus and getting valuable, current real-world experience.

“I love participating in making spaces for the performing arts,” Kaye said.

The Sharon L. Morse Performing Arts Center at The Villages is expected to be completed in February 2015. To learn more about the renovation process, click here to see a video.