Following almost two years of renovation, the historic Hanford Fox Theatre is just months away from making a comeback.
Dan Humason, whose family owns the theater, said workers finished construction on the new ceiling in the auditorium about two weeks ago. Humason said the concrete was textured to match the old one.
“It’s now looking like the room I’m used to again,” Humason said Friday.
The theater has been closed since March 20, 2014, when a large section of the concrete ceiling collapsed over the auditorium. The damage blanketed the theater with dust, some of which is still being removed periodically using large fans.
Humason said singer-songwriter Jackson Browne is scheduled to perform at the theater on April 30. Although the tour schedule on Browne’s website did not include the Hanford show as of Friday, Humason said tickets will go on sale starting Jan. 15.
Because the renovation required replacing ventilation, wiring and other overhead equipment, Humason said he intends to hold some “soft open” events to make sure everything works properly. The last time the Fox Theatre hosted a concert was in March 2014.
“I don’t want to have the first day be Jackson Browne,” Humason said.
On first glance, the theater looks just like it did before the collapse. Humason said the new ceiling is actually about 7 inches lower than the old one. There are also some new features.
The historic theater will see the addition of 1,277 individually programmable light-emitting diodes embedded in the ceiling. A 10-by-10-foot inset above the stage will feature 370 LEDs packed close enough to display simple messages and images.
“Each one is individually addressable,” Humason said. “You can do anything you want with them. You can make them any color you want. It’s basically a lo-def Sony Jumbotron.”
The theater’s lobby was also revamped to allow more floor space and restore some of its 1929 details. Humason said the expanded lobby will be able to accommodate smaller gatherings and events. The additional wall space will likely be used to display more of the theater’s vintage poster collection.
“It will be a multi-function lobby, in that all concession items are on wheels,” Humason said. “If we need to wheel them out and have a small 150-person concert in the lobby, we could do that.”
Other remaining work includes improvements to make the theater compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Those include modifying the seating area to accommodate six wheelchairs, constructing of a 10-by-10-foot unisex restroom and some concessions stands at wheelchair level.
Humason said he hopes to complete that work over the next couple of months.