A rendering of the expanded Koski Center production facility on Tallevast Road.

Not everyone who attends an Asolo Repertory Theatre production knows what goes on “backstage” at the company’s Robert and Beverly Koski Center on Tallevast Road.  But it’s where much of the set, costume and rehearsal work takes place, and as of now ground has just been broken for a major expansion of the facility.

Theater leaders and major donors joined forces yesterday, April 27, to perform the official ceremony of shoveling the dirt where the expansion will begin. The new building will be built alongside the existing facility and will include a state-of-the-art, two-story “Super Rehearsal Hall” as well as production spaces and multiple flexible studios.

This expansion is part of Asolo Rep’s strategic plan, “Staging Our Future.” The new facilities will be able to accommodate full-size set pieces, an expanded costume shop and storage, a video/audio recording studio, conference rooms and more.

According to producing artistic director Michael Donald Edwards, “The expansion of the Koski Center now underway will give the directors, designers and choreographers who love working at Asolo Rep even more room to dream and to see those visions come alive.” Since the larger rehearsal hall is similar to actual stage conditions, the theater will be able to test bigger and more complex projects there.

Phase one of the project includes the entry trellis, lobby, rehearsal hall, conference room and catering kitchen. Backers say that in addition to serving the company’s own productions, Asolo Rep will now be able to partner with other organizations, offering rehearsal space and costume rentals, along with availability of the scene shop, special events and educational programs.

The planned entry trellis.

The Koski Center was originally acquired in 2009 with the help of a million-dollar gift from Beverly Koski; million-dollar matching challenges from Margot and Warren Coville and the Charles & Margery Barancik Foundation in 2019 helped launch the capital and endowment segments of the campaign. And in January 2021, , Koski and Warren Coville issued a $1.5 million challenge to push further ahead with the project, expected to cost $21 million in all. Thus far, Asolo Rep has raised $11 million, with $5.1 million of the $6 million cost for phase one already in place.

A "Super Rehearsal Hall" can serve many uses.

It’s a big investment in the future for Asolo Rep after a season that has tried many arts groups due to the pandemic, with the inability to produce normally causing steep dips in revenues from ticket sales. It’s expected that the rehearsal hall building will be ready for the 2022-23 season.

The project features architectural design by Sweet Sparkman Architects and construction management by Tandem Construction. For more information about the expansion, visit asolorep.org/support-us/staging-our-future-capital-and-endowment-campaign.

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