Fest looks forward to new venue

SOUTHBURY, Conn. — This year’s Tony Award-winning Williamstown Theater Festival, which has just opened its 48th annual summer season in Williamstown, Mass., is getting a major upgrade courtesy of Williams College.

If all goes as planned, the 2005 festival will take place in a newly built 550-seat theater and a series of performing spaces in the college’s reconfigured and renovated 520-seat Adams Memorial Theater, the fest’s longtime main stage. The project is part of the college’s planned Center for Theater & Dance, an elaborate multibuilding project.

Construction has begun on the first phase of the project, a three-level, 234-car parking garage, which will be completed this fall.

The next phase will be the new center itself. The 550-seat theater will be a new structure, while a 250-seat theater, a 200-seat studio theater and a dance rehearsal and performance space seating up to 40 will all be carved out of the existing Adams Memorial Theater space.

The center also will include studios, offices and technical spaces.

Construction is scheduled to begin early in 2003 and end by spring 2005. The project has been designed by William Rawn Associates of Boston, the architects of Tanglewood’s Seiji Ozawa Hall.

During the academic year, the new 550-seat house will be used for performances by the Williams dance program and visiting artists and the Williams theater department, as well as for films, lectures and panels. During the summer, it will be the fest’s new main stage venue.

The renovated Adams also will be used by the college’s theater department and dance program during the academic year and its several performance spaces will replace the existing 96-seat Nikos Stage adjacent to the Adams as the fest’s second stage each summer.

As well as supplying additional audience seating, the new center will allow the festival to diversify its repertoire and enhance its production values.

Follow @Variety on Twitter for breaking news, reviews and more