'It's been a year like no other': Cape Fear Regional Theatre announces major renovations as state loosens COVID restrictions

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (WTVD) -- Governor Roy Cooper's announcement about loosening restrictions in June is a spotlight to the end of the tunnel for many entertainment venues, including Cape Fear Regional Theatre.

The three story-complex has not hosted an indoor production in more than a year because of COVID-19 restrictions.

Mary-Kate Burke, the artistic director for CFRT, tells ABC11 it's been quite the year, "I would love to never redo that again, haha."

But the pandemic isn't stopping staff from undergoing some major renovations on the theatre since March.

Burke says they received a $250,000 grant to start this facelift, providing the funds to widen seats and spacing, replace carpeting and flooring, and install a new ventilation system.

"Not only will they have a first-class seating experience, um, they'll also have a first-class sound experience," Burke added.

She credits the theatre's survival to the outpouring of community support and financial help on the city and county level.

In the last year, the theatre hasn't been without its productions, turning a nearby auto mechanic shop into a make-shift stage with seating arrangements in the fall of 2020.

"The shop has huge garage doors on multiple sides, and so we'll be able to open all of those garage doors, during the show, and fresh air will flow through the building," Burke said.

Their next "open-air" experience will start on May 20 with the production of "Murder for Two". The mechanic shop is located at 5419 Raeford Road and the production will go on until June 5.

Even though loosened restrictions will allow the theatre to bring all patrons back indoors by June, Burke doesn't expect the remodeling to be completed until the fall. So, they'll use this outdoor format until their grand re-opening.
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