AUSTIN, Texas--(ZACH Theatre, known as the city’s “leading professional theatre” (New York Times) and “liveliest and most polished professional theatre” (Austin American-Statesman) opens its new state-of-the-art Topfer Theatre this month, joining the realm of the nation’s most widely recognized regional theatres.)--
“The Topfer Theatre creates an extraordinary home for Austin’s Theatre that will serve as a hub for Central Texas’ vital cultural community”
The 420-seat Topfer Theatre, on the shores of Austin’s famed Lady Bird Lake in the heart of the city’s burgeoning arts district, anchors ZACH’s performing arts campus, which includes two other theatres and production, classroom and rehearsal facilities. ZACH is now one of the few theatre companies in the nation with a proscenium stage, a thrust stage, and an arena stage, creating unique and extraordinary opportunities for theatre professionals, actors, and audiences.
The new theatre is named in honor of Mort Topfer, a philanthropist and founding partner of Dell who is also known for leadership roles at Motorola and Advanced Micro Devices.
The dramatic new Topfer Theatre is located on one of the most prominent corners in Austin, and its vertical fly tower creates a new landmark on the skyline. Designed by Andersson-Wise Architects, the firm that designed Austin’s renowned Austin City Limits Theatre, the building’s iconic features include vivid Yves Klein-inspired blue metallic panels, nightclub-like lounges offering an uninterrupted view of the State Capitol, and channel glass architectural curtains that open to reveal a Juliet balcony and a spacious public plaza centered in the campus.
Inside, ZACH’s new stage is commensurate with large Broadway theatres, with a fly house for flying in sets, the ability to track large scenic elements from 20-foot wings on each side of the stage, a fully-trapped stage floor, an orchestra pit, and the latest technology in lighting, video and sound.
The Silver LEED-certified 32,000 square foot structure and plaza is surrounded by a large rain garden, filled with native plantings and pedestrian paths that connect the campus with Austin’s famed hike-and-bike park trail.
“The Topfer Theatre creates an extraordinary home for Austin’s Theatre that will serve as a hub for Central Texas’ vital cultural community,” says ZACH’s Producing Artistic Director Dave Steakley. “Our new technical capabilities will enable us to transfer new works originated at ZACH to our colleagues at other regional theatres across the country or to Broadway.
“ZACH will continue to be a launch pad for the development and premiere of new musicals and plays, featuring the work of Austin designers, craftspeople, and actors,” Steakley says. A highly respected incubator of new plays, ZACH is embraced by award-winning playwrights Suzan-Lori Parks, Anna Deavere Smith, and Steven Dietz, among others, who seek an artistic environment where their work will be explored, nurtured, and well-crafted.
The Topfer Theatre opens with two spectacular gala events Sept. 27 and 29, featuring Broadway superstars Bernadette Peters on the 27th and Brian Stokes Mitchell on the 29th. A community open house will be held Nov. 3.
The musical Ragtime will be the first production on the Topfer stage, beginning Oct. 17, with champagne opening/press night Oct. 25. With more than 50 actors, supported by a full orchestra for the first time in ZACH’s history, Ragtime will showcase the capabilities of the new performance space as well as the deep talent of ZACH’s company of actors and theatre artists.
For more information on ZACH’s new Topfer Theatre, visit www.zachtheatre.org.
About ZACH Theatre
ZACH Theatre is Austin’s leading professional producing theatre, employing more than 600 actors, musicians, and designers annually. Founded in 1932, ZACH is the longest running theatre company in Texas, serving 95,000 adults and youth annually. ZACH creates its own nationally recognized plays and musicals that ignite the imagination, lift the spirit, and engage the community under the proven leadership of Producing Artistic Director Dave Steakley and Managing Director Elisbeth Challener. Launching its 80th season in 2012, ZACH continues to expand and engage with Austin, adding the new 420-seat, 32,000-square-foot Topfer Theatre to its performing arts campus, nearly doubling ZACH’s capacity while retaining its hallmark intimate theatre-going experience. Visit www.zachtheatre.org for more information.