The South Orange Performing Arts Center had planned to open just days after Tropical Storm Ida hit New Jersey, leaving many local businesses with extensive damage in the aftermath, SOPAC included. The performance venue has announced that it will be closed for an additional 11 weeks to continue to repair the damages caused by Ida, pushing back the opening and rescheduling the performance dates.
“Following a more thorough assessment of the building, it has been determined that SOPAC will need to close its lobby and the Jennifer & Tony Leitner Performance Hall to the public through at least December 7. The theatre expects to hold its first mainstage show of the season on Thursday, December 9 with singer-songwriter Martin Sexton,” the venue stated.
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Recapping locals on the timelines of Ida’s time in the city, SOPAC said, “There was a performance at SOPAC on September 1 when Hurricane Ida reached the region. The show ended early, but three SOPAC staff members remained on the premises overnight. They provided shelter and assistance to NJ Transit train passengers and immediately responded to water coming into the building through the lobby doors, windows, and roof. While working to save the building, the floodwaters reached their personal cars in the NJ Transit parking lot. These three vehicles were submerged and ultimately totaled.”
^ SOPAC damage
(Photo credit: SOPAC)
The damage to the building is extensive, which prompted the further delay. “Ongoing/continued examination of the building by storm remediation experts identified far more extensive damages than originally anticipated. The carpeted lobby was completely flooded with approximately 6 inches of Category 3 stormwater. The water went into the theater, running down the raked seating area and collecting in the orchestra pit. The water soaked the walls in the lobby and theatre up to about two feet high. The stage was saturated in one area and it is currently unknown how much water remains underneath. The stage is in the process of being dismantled to continue damage investigations. The roof leaked in several areas. The public and service elevators were flooded. The loading dock sustained significant water damage. Mold was found under the wallpaper in the lobby. A soundboard was damaged and determined a loss.”
As of September 22, SOPAC will close its lobby and mainstage theatre to the public through December 7. Current ticket holders will be notified about cancellations and postponements. Patrons can visit SOPACnow.org/storm-update for the latest information.
In the meantime, SOPAC still has entertainment for patrons to enjoy.
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Laughs in the Loft with host Joe Larson will continue. This standup comedy series is held on the first Wednesday of every month in SOPAC’s 2,100-square-foot loft space on the third floor of the building. The next performance will be Wednesday, October 6.
The Herb + Milly Iris Gallery ushers in a new and exciting season of exhibitions with artist Curtis Grayson, III. His solo exhibit, Transitional Energy: Form, Shape, Color, will be on view from September 23-November 21. The gallery space is located on the second and third floors of SOPAC.
The Village at SOPAC, a movie theater run by CinemaLab, is under the same roof as SOPAC. The movie theater remains open and offers the latest blockbuster and independent films.