With completion of the Performing Arts Center at North Little Rock High School, students and faculty now have a spacious, state-of-the-art facility for performances, workshops, meetings, and any other use that may be needed. With seating for approximately 1,000 people, high tech lighting, and 360 degree sound, school officials were pleased to show off the facility last week to Governor Asa Hutchinson, North Little Rock Mayor Joe Smith, and other officials.

Although last Thursday marked the official unveiling of the facility, Terri Valentine, head of the high school’s Fine Arts Department, said the new facility was completed at the end of January, except for minor finishing details, so the high school drama students were able to use it for the musical production of “Hairspray” Febr. 24, 25, and 26. Also, Valentine said, the school board met in the theater about two weeks prior to the opening of the play.

“It was a workshop open to the community,” Valentine said, via email, which gave those attending an early look at the center.

Completed at a cost of approximately $8 to $10 million, the Performing Arts Center has a number of features to make it more versatile and to provide more comfort and safety for patrons, students, and faculty. The cost, she noted, included upgrades for the band, dance, choir, and drama programs, along with the cost of the auditorium itself.

“The pit is designed to fit a small band, the lighting is all LED technology and can be controlled by an iPad, and for smaller events, we have a black box theater that can open to the outside,” Valentine said. She also noted that the seating is designed to be more intimate, and aisle lighting built into the seat rows provides a clear view of entry and exit routes.

The layout design of the seats, she said, is intended to give every audience member an unobstructed view of the stage, while the 360 degree surround-sound system is designed to make sure everyone can hear.

“There are no bad seats,” Valentine said. “And we even have a balcony level, which is different from most high schools. It is an amazing facility and we are very excited about the great opportunities we will have to teach students the love of the theatre.”

In addition to school activities, Valentine said the auditorium will be made available to the public to rent for functions when it is available. Information on availability and cost may be obtained through the high school central office.