The $50 million center, funded primarily by a combination of a State Educational Facilities General Obligation Bond, Local Measure A Bond, and private donations to the Folsom Lake College Foundation, includes three theaters, an art gallery, educational facilities, faculty offices, and much more.
David Pier, the center’s executive director, said the facility’s design, in the curvilinear lines of its lobby, reflects the diverse feel of Folsom Lake College’s modern campus.
“The lobby is a conflux of many different design elements coming together,” Pier wrote in an email. “A large curved wall with a beautiful wood finish echoes the arcs and radiuses (sic.) that are common design elements throughout the campus. As in other buildings on campus, a slate wall with stone tiles from quarries in northern India cuts through the lobby. Bricks that make up the campus side of the facility come into the lobby around one of the theaters, bringing the outside in.”
The facility was designed by LPAS, a Sacramento-based architectural firm, in conjunction with Shalleck Collaborative, a theater consultant out of San Francisco that provided guidance on the performance spaces. Another local firm, Kitchell CEM, acted as construction manager, overseeing the work of 17 primary contractors and more than 50 specialized companies.
As its name ‘Three Stages’ indicates, the arts center includes three very different performance spaces. Stage One is an 850-seat theater with a 46-foot long proscenium, a full stage house, and an orchestra pit. It will accommodate performers from across the artistic spectrum, from Broadway touring shows to symphonies to modern dance performances. Its design is modeled on one of the world’s most famous and venerable theaters.
“This theater-in-the-round setting is reminiscent of the Globe Theatre in England,” said David Webb, marketing consultant for Three Sages, referring to the theater of Shakespeare’s London, built in 1599. The similarity, he said, is intentional, given Folsom Lake College’s participation in a program that allows instructors to visit England and the Globe Theatre.
Stage One’s interior features include the use of comfortable blue cloth seats and warm wooden accents, giving the auditorium an inviting feeling absent in more sterile-feeling performing arts centers.
“A Venetian plaster was used on the interior walls, together with large wood finished surfaces and curtains which can be drawn to adjust the acoustics of the theater,” Pier noted. “The carpeting and upholstery on the seats help to give the space a warm sensibility. The balcony and its box seats wrap around the theater, similar to the Globe Theatre, emphasizing the intimacy of the venue.”
Stage One also boasts excellent acoustics and sightlines for audience members.
“This hall can do all of the things the Mondavi Center (at UC Davis) can do, and it seats half the number of people,” marveled Webb, who was the Mondavi Center’s first marketing director.
Stage One’s first season highlights include the national tour of “A Chorus Line,” the Joffrey Ballet, the Harlem Gospel Choir, singer/songwriter Rickie Lee Jones, husband-and-wife jazz musicians John Pizzarelli and Jessica Molaskey, The Pink Floyd Experience, and Roseanne Cash, daughter of the late Johnny Cash, known for his “Live at Folsom Prison” album. And yes, Pink Floyd fans, Webb promises the show will feature a 12-foot long pig blimp.
Stage Two, which Webb calls his favorite space within the performing arts center, is known for its versatility and practicality. It includes multiple doors and stage rigging setups to regulate the size of the space, adjustable overhead lighting, and a fully functional costume shop.
The arts center’s most intimate venue, Stage Three is a 100-seat recital hall that will be a great place to see and hear acoustic music and vocals. It features a gorgeous hardwood floor that any basketball team would be proud to call their home court, plus a state-of-the-art 48-track digital recording studio Webb said is rumored to be the biggest in the region.
Three Stages’ doors will open to the public next Feb. 4 with a ribbon cutting and open house. The following day’s community showcase will feature more than a dozen local performers. The facility’s official grand opening weekend will run Feb. 11 through Feb. 14 and will showcase performances of “A Chorus Line” on Feb. 11 through Feb. 13 and “Sugar and Spice,” a special Valentine’s Day pops concert by the Folsom Symphony.
Pier and Folsom Lake College President Dr. Thelma Scott-Skillman are both understandably excited about the arts center’s pending opening. Pier believes the facility will bolster the region’s overall quality of life.
The center also is expected to be a regional economic driver.
“Once up and operating, the center will employ more than 50 people on an ongoing basis, which will have a direct ripple effect on the local economy,” noted Pier. “Another boon for local businesses relates to the more than the center’s long-term operating budget of $3 million per year could result in an economic impact on the region of upwards of $7 million annually.”
A regional ‘change agent’
Dr. Scott-Skillman expects the facility to improve as it grows into its own skin.
“Three Stages will build upon its offerings during the next few years to ensure the diversity of performances and entertainment,” she said. “At full capacity we are planning to offer approximately 400 performances, events, and activities a year, including four or five art exhibits and many exciting programs for young children.”
A musician herself, Scott-Skillman appreciates the comforting effect music and the arts can provide, and she looks forward to other artists seeing and appreciating everything Three Stages has to offer.
“As an educator, immersed into an exciting and productive position as a college president, I am also able to lean upon my passion for music as therapy for my soul; my piano truly is a comfort zone for me,” she said. “I am so very proud of this facility. It has truly been a labor of love, taking nearly nine years of planning, researching, and collaborating with many, many people at the college, in the Los Rios district, and across the entire United States to gather as much information to present a gift of the arts to our region.”
Having led tours of the facility, Scott-Skillman knows the impact it can have on visitors.
For more information on Three Stages and complete information about upcoming performances, show times and ticket prices, visit www.threestages.net.