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Muskegon landmark reopening, looking for community support

The Frauenthal Theater is hoping to raise $5.1 million.

MUSKEGON, Mich. — “My first experience at the Frauenthal was when I was three or four years old my parents took me to see a production of sesame street live," Says Eric Messing. "It was my first live theater experience.”

Messing’s experience is not unique. He’s the executive director of the Frauenthal, but it’s been a long time since he’s seen a show…

“It’s been over a year since the Frauenthal has been full,” Messing says, walking through the empty theater.

March of 2020 to be exact, but even before the pandemic, plans were in the works to make improvements. An architectural inspection was done in 2019 to identify areas of improvement.

“We would have had to have suspended programming for a while because the HVAC System is directly above the stage."

When the pandemic hit, it meant renovations could be done guilt free.

“A bit of a blessing in disguise that we were able to use that time when we were shut down to take care of these larger projects and not interrupt our audience,” Messing said. 

All told the renovations will cost $5.1 million.  That will include the Fully upgraded HVAC system, heated sidewalks, 102 window replacements and other general improvements

“There are a lot of enhancements that are going to improve the experience," Messing says. "But there’s also a lot of enhancements that are addressing literal deterioration of the Frauenthal”

For example, the fire escapes...

"They were disconnected from the building or on their way, until we repaired them. That’s a major safety hazard, and that’s something that’s preserving this facility for future generations and future use.”

Private donors have already donated 4.1 million dollars, and Frauenthal leadership is looking to the community to push them past their final goal.

Come July 1, the Frauenthal will be holding shows at full capacity.

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