Harral Auditorium all lit up for the new school year

PLAINVIEW – Let there be light!

After a weather catastrophe left Wayland Baptist University’s Harral Auditorium without lights for most of the spring and summer, the facility is now back up and running. But it didn’t come without a lot of blood, sweat and tears.

Chris Moore, who serves as technical theatre director at Wayland and Harral coordinator, said getting the well-used facility back into commission was costly in several areas.

The problems began in February when a storm late in the month produced lightning that struck the auditorium, killing the dimmer system. Incidentally, Moore added, the same storm affected the auditorium at Plainview High and at the Fair Theatre.

Initially, Moore said the dimmers in the auditorium house – where the audience seating is located – were fried, but shortly, the entire system was unusable. The place was dark. The university faced two options: repair the existing system, which was 15 years old, or replace it with an upgraded system. They chose to replace the system with a new one.

But before that work could be done, Moore said the electrical wiring for the system had to be completely redone, a time-consuming project. After that, the lighting company, AV Pro of Plano, came in to install the new system. It took some long hours and weekends, but the work was completed just in time for the first chapel service of the fall on Aug.22, also the day classes began for the fall term.

In the meantime, though, Moore said the unfortunate incident left the staff scrambling to reschedule everything already on their usually-full spring schedule. First off was the final performance of the Plainview Community Concerts, which could not be moved. Since the stage lights were still working – though not nearly at optimal capacity – Moore said his crew developed a “the show must go on” motto. He rented lights on stands to illuminate the house before and after the show, and he bought up large flashlights and hired students as ushers to help folks in and out of the auditorium while the show was going and the lights were out.

The stage lights, which were operating at “all or nothing” at that point, had to be controlled from the basement like an on-and-off switch during the show. Soon after the performance, though, Moore said the entire system was unusable.

“We were lucky in that we had a lot of things already finished at that point,” Moore said. “Community Concerts and Plainview Symphony only had one show left, and the symphony had to be moved. But after that, it was all in-house stuff.”

The in-house events, however, were numerous. Besides the weekly chapel services Wayland holds for students, the spring term is notoriously packed with senior music recitals, ensemble concerts and faculty recitals. Those events had to find a home in Plainview wherever they could, many using local churches as emergency venues. Chapel, the Big Weekend concert and the spring graduation ceremony for WBU moved to Hutcherson Center.

Though it was inconvenient for many, Moore said the fiasco is behind them now as the new system brings them up-to-date as far as lighting is concerned. With a few chapel services already under their belt, the Harral staff is ready to take on other events.

For information on available dates and fees for booking the auditorium, contact Moore at 291-1081.