The Foster Family Theater intimately seats approximately 440 patrons and is served by four entrances at two levels in the Marie Damrell Gallo Grand Lobby. There is no balcony in the space, but side galleries wrap along the sides of the chamber above the Marie Damrell Gallo Grand Lobby level entrances below.
Requirements for the Foster Family Theater are as varied as they are for the Mary Stuart Rogers Theater, except in a smaller more intimate setting. Use for theater productions will likely be heavier than in the Mary Stuart Rogers Theater, so proper projection and intelligibility of un-amplified voices have been key factors in the design. Sufficient volume in the hall has been provided to develop the degree of reverberation needed for classical music (1.5-1.7 seconds at mid-frequency, occupied). Retractable draperies will be provided to adjust the reverberant character of the hall down to approximately 1.3 seconds at mid-frequency.
The narrow dimensions of the Foster Family Theater are favorable with regard to support of un-amplified voices, and the farthest seats being within 60 feet of the proscenium will enhance the sense of acoustical intimacy throughout the hall.
A small orchestra shell and forestage reflectors will be provided in this hall as well. The orchestra pit is sized for approximately 15 musicians but may be enlarged to accommodate 25 musicians.
A series of straight catwalks form the ceiling plane in this space while provide lighting positions and favorable acoustical reflections. The follow spot booth is located directly above the control booth, and may be accessed by ladder or catwalk. Additional lighting pipes are at the back of house and side lighting positions.
The proscenium is 40’-0” wide by 24’-0” high and the stage is 34’-0” deep by 80’-10” wide.
This ability to “tune” the room acoustics gives a great range of control and choice to theater directors, conductors, and performers. In keeping with the classical music acoustic objectives, a traditional shoebox shape has been pursued. The maximum width of the hall is 97 feet, which tapers in to approximately 72 feet between the side walls just forward of the proscenium. These dimensions are favorable with respect to directing early sound reflections towards the center portions of the orchestra seating areas.
The design of the hall incorporates a single balcony, so that the farthest seat is approximately 100 feet from the proscenium, assuring a good degree of intimacy and overall loudness of sound throughout the hall.
An orchestra shell will be an essential element of the hall for natural music performances. The purpose of the shell is to provide sound reflections that enhance on-stage hearing for the musicians, as well as to project a balanced and properly timed series of early reflections to the audience.
Forestage reflectors suspended in the audience chamber just forward of the proscenium extend into the hall over the orchestra pit. These reflectors direct early reflections from within the orchestra shell to the front positions of the seating area, enhance on-stage hearing for players situated on the pit lift forward of the proscenium, improve ensemble hearing in the orchestra pit, and provide reinforcement of low power string instruments.
The orchestra pit is sized for approximately 40 musicians. A portion of the pit will extend under the stage to assure balance among orchestral sections. The rear wall will be articulated to promote sound diffusion and will also be provided with removable draperies for variable sound absorption.
A tension grid providing theatrical lighting positions above the audience is arrayed along concentric arcs mimicking the seating rows below and forming a virtual ceiling plane or “chandelier,” with integrated house lighting fixtures. Follow spot positions are located above the balcony. Balcony edge and sidewall locations fill out the theatrical lighting positions within the house.
The forestage reflectors help to frame the 27’-0” high proscenium and sliding tormenters adjust the proscenium frame width from between 60’ 0” and 40’-0”. The stage is 45’-0” deep by 102’-6” wide with a scene dock beyond that provides storage space for the orchestra shell towers and will accommodate rear-projection.