RPHS Auditorium Restoration Finally Underway

The Roselle Park High School (RPHS) Auditorium is on its way to being renovated and refurbished after years of use had taken its toll on the community theatre.

The project, started by a group of involved parents, teachers, and administrators called “The Friends of RPHS” in 2010, have now seen their hard work come to fruition with help from the Roselle Park Board Of Education (BOE) who added auditorium renovations to the 214-15 school year’s budget. Through the years parents – some of whom no longer had children in the high school but stayed on because they cared so much – persevered to bring awareness to the condition of RPHS Auditorium and worked to get donations and support.

“I have so many wonderful memories of seeing great musicals there,” stated Patti Harding Johns, a member of The Friends of RPHS, adding, “It’s important not only to the high school kids but Roselle Park that it get renovated. It’s a jewel of the community.”

In June of this year, the auditorium was stripped to its shell, having the seats removed and the stage sanded down to its original wood finish then re-stained and cleaned underneath. During the summer, work crews will continue renovations and repairs to have the auditorium ready by late September/early October.

“A lot of this has been done in-house to save the district some money,” BOE member Loren Harms said at a June meeting. He noted that the walls and floor will be cleaned, then tiling will take place followed by the installation of new seats. Although most of the work is being done by school district personnel, companies have been brought in to install acoustically designed padding throughout the auditorium to provide optimal sound quality and avoid echoing and other audio technical issues. Mr. Harms also stated that he recommended that the sound system be replaced and not just have parts of it repaired or replaced. He stated, “[We] don’t want to put a dime in now just to put a dollar in later.”

Air conditioning will not be part of this project as the estimated cost for that is around $400,000. Still, Mr. Harms sees this as a first step to improving the community theatre and expanding its use to not only school plays but other uses that can benefit the district and community such as conventions and renting the space to other organizations.

RPHS Principal Sara Costa also sees the possibilities which include having state testing in the auditorium with seats designed to double as school room desk chairs.

Mr. Harms also addressed concerns with name plaques that were purchased previous to renovations. Those who donated to have a seat named on their behalf will have their name plates installed on the new seats. People will still be able to purchase seats with name plaques for $150 by visiting the Friends of RPHS web site (link) or contacting the main office at RPHS at (908) 241-4550.

The Fall Cabaret is scheduled to be the premiere showcase when the auditorium officially re-opens to the public.