Looking forward to the Leach Center for the Performing Arts 

It stood for 43 years, providing a home for countless plays, musicals, meetings, concerts, assemblies, recitals, and Town Halls, but it did not take long for Colorado Academy’s Froelicher Theatre to come down to the ground. On a hot August afternoon, a small group of faculty, staff, students, and even alumni, gathered to watch the demolition“This theater has had a great run,” said Steve Scherer, recording the moment on his phone. “Now we’re ready for Act Two.” 

Construction of the Leach Center for the Performing Arts began immediately. Scheduled to open in fall 2021, the Leach Center will include two performance spaces, a place to design and build sets, room to rehearse, instructional classroom space, a theatrical rigging system, up-to-date lighting and sound, updated heating and air conditioning, and seating for more than 500 people. 

View from Main Stage in Theater; preliminary rendering by Shears Adkins Rockmore Architects, September 2020

Generous donors have made gifts to support the new Leach Center for the Performing Arts, the fourth and final building in CA’s See it Through capital campaign. Already completed are the remodel of the Welborn House, construction of the new Ponzio Arts Center, and construction of the Field House and Athletic Center.

CA continues to seek philanthropic support to raise the $4.5 million needed to complete fundraising goals and add the Leach Center—which will be one of the most public spaces at CA—to the roster of beautiful, functional buildings on campus. As the CA community watches renderings become reality in the next year, here is what they are looking forward to in the new Leach Center for the Performing Arts.

What we are looking forward to  

I am looking forward to redesigning our theater program to match the new building. The Leach Center will offer us a Broadway-like setting to do theater. It’s a big, open, professional space with professional lighting, projection, and sound systems. And on top of that, I am really looking forward to heating and air conditioning, so students and audiences can feel comfortable! 

—Steve Scherer, Chair of the Theater & Dance Department 

If you are a student who just wants to give theater a try, the Leach Center will fill your needs. But if you are looking for a place which will provide a springboard into a life pursuing any aspect of theater professionally, now we will have a building which will propel students into professional careers. And if you want to learn to act on screen, we will have studio-like spaces for students to explore onscreen techniques and fully realize their potential. There is an element of discomfort in acting, so it’s important to provide a safe and efficient environment for students to imaginatively explore their craft. Now we will have that place. 

—James Meehan, Middle & Upper School Theater and Theater Tech 

 Every building has a personality, and to discover the personality of the Leach Center will be exciting. It’s an open, inviting space, and I think that will attract students. It’s always exciting to discover how theater works in a new space, and this one has been so painstakingly designed to mount the kind of productions we want to do. Our creativity won’t be limited. I can go in any direction I want to try, and the Leach Center for the Performing Arts can accommodate that. 

—Maclain Looper, Middle & Upper School Theater 

 I’ve been in New York City for the last six years acting, but also writing, directing, and producing short films and music videos. The way the industry is going, it’s not enough to be just an actor. I hope the new performing arts center acknowledges that reality and leans into the development of a student’s potential to wear as many creative hats as possible! The career of an actor entails a lot of waiting for opportunities. A student who has the ability to write, act, shoot, and edit content will never be at a loss for expressing their creativity. 

—Luke Slattery ’09 

 It is because of the spark that was ignited in Froelicher Theatre that I have dedicated my life to light. I have had the opportunity to work in theaters around the world and have seen the inner workings of some of the most complicated and advanced stages. In the new Leach Center, students will have a fly loft and walkable catwalks that will enable them to change scenery quickly and safely hang lights and speakers. The improved lighting, audio, and video capabilities will be more like a professional theater complex and provide state-of-the-art education for performers, technicians, and designers.  

 It is wonderful to see CA focus on the performing arts, and the expanded programming that will be available to future students. I am grateful for the opportunities that I had at CA, and I am excited to know that, going forward, there will be students learning in a modern theater complex.

 —Travis Sawyer ’04 

Performance Space and Black Box Theater; preliminary rendering by Shears Adkins Rockmore Architects, September 2020

 I must say that the feature I might be most jealous of in the new performing arts center would be air conditioning! Also, comfortable seating would be a vast improvement from those rock-hard risers. Just thinking about sitting through a long Town Hall makes my back hurt! 

 It will be great to have a building that can accommodate a larger portion of the CA community, so we would not have to resort to the gym for major functionsI’m sure that the Leach Center will have fantastic up-to-date technology and resources that will help students create art at the highest level, but I also hope that it maintains some of the homey quality I so loved in Froelicher. Every theater is a space where personal identities form and shift and grow—and where strong communities and friendships form—so look forward to new space that is built with this in mind. 

—Chloe Nosan ’16 

 Hundreds of former CA students left their own unique mark on Froelicher. The walls in the Basement Theater were littered with autographs and memories documented in sparkling silver SharpieSo I think if I had to choose what I was most excited about in the new theater, it would have to be the fact that it will be something that is completely ours. For the first time in what seems like forever, we will be the inaugural acting class. I’m really looking forward to being the first of many CA acting students reciting monologues or practicing improv on the brandnew stage. 

—Annelise Agelopoulos, Grade 11 

 A theater is a place like no other. From the performers, to the techies, to the teachers, to the audience members, everyone plays an important role in the success of this department. I am so grateful to be a part of CA’s theater community, and I know that gaining a new home next year will bring this program to new heights. 

—Abigail Shapiro, Grade 11 

“It will be wonderful that in the new theater, the facilities will match the quality of the instruction going on inside. All of the arts teachers are so good at their craft, and to have the new space actually enhance the excellent work being done there will be a validation to students and faculty that their time and effort are worthy of a top-notch complex. 

“We have so many special memories tied to Froelicher, so it’s a little sad to see it go, but at the end of the day we know it’s the people in the building that make the difference. We hope many CA generations to come will experience the same type of magical moments within the Leach Center for the Performing Arts. Break a leg!” 

 —Renée Ducnuigeen, parent of Eliza Ducnuigeen ’17 

 “Everyone involved in the theater and the arts has so many ideas, so much love, and so much passion to put into their projects. I think the new theater will give us the space we need to push those ideas and projects to their full potential. While I will miss the charm and memories of the old theater, I’m looking forward to all the incredible new things we’ll be able to try. And, emotional words aside, I am really, truly, incredibly excited to be able to use the bathroom during a show without the entire audience hearing a resounding flush.”  

—Claire Kenney, Grade 11 

 I am most looking forward to having a new space in which to be creative and explore the arts. The increased and updated theater not only will allow for larger productions filled with impressive sets and more performers, but also will provide a variety of spaces for different types of performances. I also think that the Leach Center will benefit the audience as much as the performers. There will be more people attending performances, while the overall quality of the lighting and sound will increase as well, allowing the audience to enjoy the performances even more. In the end, having this improved space will allow the teachers to help their students reach their full artistic potential. 

—Andrew Koclanes, Grade 10 

Entrance Lobby; preliminary rendering by Shears Adkins Rockmore Architects, September 2020

 I am looking forward to the new Leach Center being fully accessible to everyone in all aspects, including an elevator and accessible restrooms. I’m glad I’ll be able to take advantage of the new theater before I graduate! 

—Casey Myers, Grade 11 

 I am looking forward to experiencing a new and unique space that will be there long after I graduate. I’m excited for the entire experience of figuring out a whole new building. I can’t wait for the season next year to give the Leach Center a proper opening! 

—Christian Barnard, Grade 10 

The biggest thing that I am looking forward to will be just getting back to performing with my peers on our stage. The CA theater community is something really special, in a different way than everything else at CA. I know that no matter what the new theater is like, that community will still be as fun and inclusive as it always has been. 

—J.T. Timmers, Grade 10 

 “I am so looking forward to having a dedicated space to help develop our brand-new Speech and Debate program. Speech and debate is so important, because it develops students’ communication skills, builds confidence, allows students to become comfortable in diverse situations and learn to think quickly on their feet. Also, it really helps students develop excellent knowledge of contemporary events. The Leach Center is a natural home for this program, because students who are interested in theater often migrate to speech and debate. Now they will have a place to focus on brainstorming and rehearse as they dive deeply into this new area.” 

—Dr. Jon Vogels, Upper School Principal 

 

The new Leach Center for the Performing Arts will be used by every CA student and will serve as a place for the wider community to gather. We invite you to play a role in CA’s future by making a gift today to support the project. Please visit CASeeItThrough.org or contact Gravely Wilson, CA Advancement Officer, at gravely.wilson@coloradoacademy.org

The Leach Center for the Performing Arts will be located on a similar footprint and orientation to the old Froelicher Theatre. Main features of the new building include:

  1. Entrance Plaza
  2. Outdoor Performance Space and Classroom
  3. Main Entrance
  4. Entrance Lobby
  5. Elevator to Lower Lobby and Dressing Rooms
  6. East Stairway to Lower Lobby and Dressing Rooms
  7. Restrooms
  8. Theater with seating for more than 500 guests
  9. Main Stage
  10. Control Booth
  11. Theater Office
  12. Gallery Walk to Performance Space and Black Box Theater
  13. Performance Space and Black Box Theater
  14. Rehearsal Room / Multi-Purpose Space
  15. West Entrance
  16. Classroom for Speech and Debate
  17. Scene Shop