The stage area at Windsor High School’s auditorium is in need of an update, and theater director Julie Estrada found the perfect way to make that happen.
Estrada was watching the television show “Smash” on NBC a few weeks ago, and a commercial came on explaining how a school can improve its performance space by entering a contest sponsored by the show and Lowe’s.
The contest is called “Smash: Make a Musical Constructed by Lowe’s” and five public or charter middle schools or high schools will be selected to each win a grand prize of a $3,000 Lowe’s gift card to update their theater space.
Estrada had to submit an application including a photo of the stage and write a 25 words or less essay highlighting why the public should vote to improve the performance space.
WHS was selected as one of 30 schools for the contest. It is competing for a top-five spot against two schools from New York who were hit by Hurricane Sandy, as well as schools from all over the country including Texas, Arizona, California, Tennessee, Rhode Island, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Virginia, North Carolina, Oklahoma, North Carolina, Wisconsin, Oregon, Mississippi, Louisiana and Washington. Windsor is the only school from Colorado that was selected for the contest.
“This was right up our alley, We’ve been in talks with the district trying to work on this as well, but of course things like teachers’ salaries and books come before updating and making a functional theater. I understand that,” Estrada said. “This is a step in the right direction.”
As of Friday morning, Windsor was currently in 16th place with 3,354 votes. There is still a lot of time to vote with April 10 as the deadline at www.makeamusical.org. Estrada is encouraging everybody to vote on their smartphone, iPad, iPod, computer, etc.
“We have 1,100 students in this school. If they each voted once a day on their phone or their computer ... it doesn’t cost anything,” Estrada said.
Estrada said her saying regarding the auditorium is: “It looks pretty, but it’s pretty dysfunctional.”
“The last update we had there was the purple curtains, purple chairs and purple carpet. It looks pretty, and we have a nice wood floor, but it’s starting to cave in certain spots,” Estrada said. “My tech director is fearful of our nice grand piano being on the front of the stage because it eventually is going to cave in and the piano is going to fall into the (orchestra) pit.”
Estrada said the wood floor isn’t good for dancing on it because of its grooves and places where the wood has splintered.
“We have no storage. We have things currently stored underneath the stage because our orchestra pit is not functional. It’s only four foot deep,” Estrada said. “Our stage space is lacking. There are a lot of things on our stage that needs to be revamped. Our light board is really, really old. Our sound board is newer, but we don’t have adequate electrical in there. I’d love to lower the orchestra pit floor, and be able to use the pit as a functional orchestra pit.”
Amanda Ricketson, 17, a junior who had a lead role in the recent spring play “Treasure Island,” said it would be awesome if Windsor could win one of the grand prizes.
“Things are falling apart. There are bricks missing from the stage,” Amanda said. “Our theater was built a very long time ago, and it’s a little outdated. There’s just a list of stuff we could fix.”
Amanda said it would be great if the entire community would vote.
“It’s not just us theater kids using it. The whole community at one time probably has been in our auditorium,” Amanda said. “If everyone voted in this town at least two times, that would be enough votes.”
Estrada said the WHS auditorium, which seats 900, is not only used for high school plays. The high school puts on a fall musical and spring play every school year, in addition to a student-directed play almost once a year.
“We not only have the high school programs, but we have elementary schools come, we have middle schools come to do programs on our stage,” she said.
Band and choir concerts, political debates, mock trials and other community events go on at the auditorium.
“It’s not like the stage isn’t used,” Estrada said. “It is booked all of the time. I certainly think we need to keep our auditorium up just as much as we keep our football field up.”