Urbana High selling auditorium items before renovation starts

Urbana High selling auditorium items before renovation starts

URBANA — Peter McDaniel spent a lot of time onstage during his years at Urbana High School, acting in many plays and running the scene shop during his junior and senior years.

Soon he'll own a piece of the stage. And a piece of the stage curtain. And two theater chairs, and a counterweight used for raising and lowering scenery and lighting.

The high school and the Urbana Alumni Association are selling many of the items from Cobb Memorial Auditorium, before work begins on a $4.5 million renovation of the nearly 100-year-old space.

The high school and alumni association will hold a public sale from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday in the auditorium.

Among the items for sale are: about 450 theater chairs, $5 each; 12-inch-square pieces of the stage and the stage curtain, $10 each; 15-foot-high tan velvet curtains; a 15-foot-long makeup mirror; steel counterweights; a collection of plants used in the production of "Little Shop of Horrors"; shelving; lighting; and a 15-foot by 20-foot movie screen.

"It's in pristine condition," said Greg Chew, a longtime drama teacher at Urbana High School, now retired and serving as technical director for the drama program.

"It's probably a little ambitious for a home theater, but I'm hoping a local club would want it, or a union hall," he continued.

Chew said the goal of the sale is to make some money that will go to the theater program, possibly to pay for some new equipment or a portion of the renovation.

But he's equally interested in seeing the items that are still usable stay out of the landfill and be put to use by another theater group.

"Really, the idea was that we've got stuff that's got a life left in them," Chew said. "Our seats date to the early '80s and they can still be used.

"I want to see them in a theater and not a landfill," he continued, adding they would also work well in elementary classrooms for independent reading groups.

Chew said the sale of the theater items has been advertised to theater groups and online. Urbana graduates have also been passing the word through social media.

"The only issue is trying to stay one step ahead of the demolition crew," he said.

McDaniel stopped by Tuesday afternoon for a couple of chairs.

"I don't know what I'm going to do with them," he said, but acknowledged it's nice to have a piece of nostalgia from the theater.

Then he suggested that "what would really be cool is a piece of the stage."

Chew informed him pieces of the stage would be for sale, then asked if there was a particular area of the stage he wanted.

"Heck, yes. Center front," McDaniel replied.

"Some things haven't changed," Chew responded.

McDaniel cut a piece of the stage curtain Tuesday, noting where he ripped it when a piece of scenery fell onto it during a performance.

"That's what's fun," Chew said. "There are stories about every piece of scenery we've moved out of here, and the costumes."

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