Please note: I received two tickets, free of charge, to attend a play at the BPAC. Feel free to take my review with as much salt as you deem necessary.
On Thursday night we had the opportunity to attend a show at the Burnsville Performing Arts Center courtesy of reader Christine Zrust who also happens to be affiliated with District 191’s theater program and Second Stage Theatre Company. The tickets were for the 7:30 PM showing of Second Stage’s musical version of Titanic being held on the main stage. Sounded like a perfect night out and one we were looking forward to.
We arrived just after 7 and waited in the short line at the Will-Call booth. Our tickets were quickly located and handed to us. We would be sitting on the end of row K in seats 1 and 2. We made our way to our seats and waited for the musical to begin. The show itself was a good one. While I am not much for musicals and have unfortunately seen the movie more times than I care to admit, the performance was enjoyable.
Due to the late start we were not able to stay after the intermission as we were informed by an usher that the show would likely run until 10:20 and we would not make it home in time to relieve our sitter at the predetermined time of 10:30. We were pretty disappointed as we were really into the performance and later my wife said she would definitely have paid the $20/ticket to see the show. Way to go Second Stage.
So you heard about the show, now on to the venue itself:
1. The concessions are an absolute joke.
There is a concession booth yet concessions were being sold in the lobby at a table. The lines in and out of this table were apparently made to make moving through the lobby as difficult as possible nearly forcing you to pay the astronomical prices for pop and snacks. No VenuWorks, $3.00 is not an acceptable price for a 20 ounce bottle of soda. No you should not be setting up a folding table in the middle of the lobby to sell these overpriced carbonated sugar dispensers. And you wonder why you aren’t making much money…
2. The ushers don’t help you find your seats
I realize that in 2010 we have to concern ourselves with counterfeit tickets from Ticketbastard for a musical put on by a local theater group and that all available ushers should be spending their time ensuring that no one is sneaking in to fill a non-sold out show with their ill-gotten wares but it would really have been nice to hear that my chosen entrance into the venue was actually on the wrong side. You know, you scanned the ticket the least you could have done was tell me, “oh, you will actually be on the other side.”
3. There are already cracks in the floor
As you can see from the photo at the top of the post, the BPAC is already showing signs of settling. For $20+ million you would think that these types of issues would be cared for immediately and without delay. If I were a Burnsville taxpayer I’d be on the phone to City Hall asking why my huge investment is already looking like it’s 25 years old. Seriously, there’s no way that happened minutes before I sat down why was it allowed to look that way?
4. The venue is just too small and amateurish
The first words out of my wife’s mouth were, “I thought it’d be bigger. My high school’s auditorium was larger.” I could only shrug and agree. I knew how many people it could hold but she was right–it just felt smaller than I would have expected. In addition, the shadow cut outs on the side, which are apparently supposed to be artsy, look awful. These random shapes are mirrored in the BPAC’s terrible logo as well. Time to get rid of them and the logo as well. It doesn’t help the lack of professionalism.
5. The audio and acoustics were atrocious
I don’t know if it was the fault of Second Stage’s own staff or the venue itself but neither my wife nor I could make out about 50% of what was being said when the actors were singing. Thankfully as we both were quite familiar with the story we were able to fill in the muffled words and get the gist. If I had been there for a concert and had to endure muddied vocals for $60+ I would have been one unhappy customer.
6. I was just expecting more
Even though I had extremely low expectations for this venue overall, I must honestly admit that I was not prepared for just how mediocre it was when I was inside. The way the mayor and the rest of the city council, as well as residents who have used the venue and have posted on this site have talked it up had me believing it was really something unique and special. What I found was a glorified school stage pretending to be something far more. I really wanted to like it, thus the low expectations, but I have to say Burnsville’s residents got the short end of a really short stick.
Overall I liked what Second Stage had to offer as far as musicals go and I’d go back and see another show in the future as long as it wasn’t at the BPAC or at least wasn’t at the BPAC that I experienced on Thursday night. For a place which has been open for more than a year being run by a management company who has numerous other venues under its purview I would have expected a better trained and managed staff with a much better hold on operating a venue properly. I have been an outspoken opponent of VenuWorks from the start and Thursday night certainly cemented (ha!) the idea in my head that they are incapable of running the BPAC successfully.
Did you get a chance to see Second Stage’s rendition of Titanic? If so, what did you think? Have you seen any of their other performances? Which ones and what did you think of those? How about the BPAC itself? Aside from its very pretty exterior what do you think about what’s going on inside? Do you think it looks small? Do you think the concrete issue should be fixed immediately? Whatever it is that you have to say about the Burnsville Performing Arts Center, VenuWorks’ poor management or Second Stage Theater’s Titanic go ahead and comment on as I’d love to hear what you have to say.