Changes are coming to Sharp Hall. The renovations will allow the Woodbrook Players to offer their theater productions three times a year and provide performance space for the Senior Center, Preschool, and other renters, while maintaining the room as a meeting and activity space for all. The project includes construction of a stage at the south end of the room, removing the architectural arch, installing blackout curtains over the window wall that can be opened and closed, installing a stage curtain, converting current storage into a backstage area, converting the recessed area and folding wall on the right side of Sharp Hall to new storage for tables and chairs, providing permanent access from Sharp Hall to the Senior Center activity room, installing stage lighting, and repainting the hall.
Download the FAQ with floor plan drawings here
Sharp Hall Renovation Frequently Asked Questions
- What process has the Committee followed?
The Woodbrook Players Committee first met on March 18, 2018. The Committee worked to move the Woodbrook Players to Govans, purchase and install a storage shed, research alternative performance spaces, define requirements for a stage and additional modifications to Sharp Hall, create sketches of the desired future state, send a Request for Proposal (RFP) to three architecture firms, review those proposals, and select one firm (Carl Schwartz) to move forward.
Financial support of the Woodbrook Players was specified in the merger Plan of Union. Session has approved draft sketches of the stage along with a $150k fund, which was allocated from the proceeds of the Brown Memorial Woodbrook estate.
- Who is on the Committee?
The Committee is composed of Session members, Church members, and key members of the Woodbrook Players company. The following people have participated in meetings and contributed in various ways to this process: Stephen Gaede (Chair), Beth Bryant, Peter Conrad, Mike Field, Tom Harris, Ron Oaks, Sherry Peck, Ashley Short, Jocelyn Taylor, Wayne White, Bob Wong, Elsie Wong, and Maria Wong.
- How often does the Woodbrook Players hold performances?
The Woodbrook Players hold performances three times a year – typically a play in the fall, a fundraiser in the winter (with no set), and a musical in the spring.
- Have the Woodbrook Players looked at alternative places to hold performances?
The committee has looked at many possible alternative performance spaces in the area. While there are some decent options, none are a perfect match when considering cost, storage, and availability. We considered the following churches in the search:
- Roland Park Presbyterian Church – a decent possibility but they have no real storage space so long-term rental wasn’t suitable
- N. Baltimore Mennonite Church on Roland Park Ave – they have a nice stage but the rental fee was $27/hr.
- Faith Presbyterian Church
- Church of the Redeemer
- Grace Methodist
- Woodbrook Baptist
- Towson Presbyterian Church
- Ascension Lutheran
- What changes is the Committee proposing to make to Sharp Hall?
We have developed the following requirements for the theater space and provided them to the architecture firm:
- Building a stage 28 in. high behind a proscenium arch and 6 ft. thrust in front of arch at same height.
- The stage will be 24 feet deep, measured from the windows into Sharp Hall.
- Removal/renovation of storage closets to right of stage to create a wing and off-stage storage.
- Remove false ceiling above stage for light and sound equipment.
- Adjust or remove built-in areas behind the proscenium arch and at the arch for the stage hangings etc.
- Ability for actors to enter the stage from the audience on the left or right side of the stage via steps, 4 steps 7 inches high.
- Storage under the stage for folded and stacked tables, to be slid underneath using carts or other system. This space may alternatively be used for prop storage.
- Black curtain across the back window wall that can open to reveal light when the stage is not in use.
- Sky drop 5 ft. from back window wall and width of stage that can be drawn open or closed (if allowed per fire code).
- Two rows of black teasers across the top of the stage to hide light and sound equipment.
- Two sets of black tormentors on either side of the stage to block entrances.
- Curtain at the proscenium arch, 17’ 4” from the back window wall.
- Lighting and Sound
- A pole or other support hanging from the ceiling 20 feet from stage for lights.
- Wiring for all sound and lighting equipment in theatre area and hall for running shows.
- New Storage Space and Entrance from the Senior Center
- Creation of a closet in Sharp Hall for chair/table storage in the enclosure between the Hall and the Senior Center.
- Creating an entrance between the Senior Center and Sharp Hall.
- What will happen to the window wall and natural light?
As seen in the proposed changes above, the window wall will be preserved, but the bottom 28” will be hidden by the stage. During productions the windows will be covered by black curtains. When the stage is not in use the curtains can be opened to allow natural light from the window wall. In addition, sets can be designed to open up/fold and reveal the window wall.
- What will happen to the decorative arch?
The decorative arch will be removed, transformed into a proscenium arch which will frame the stage and hide curtains.
- Will the stage limit table space for gatherings? Will the stage impact the ability to accommodate rentals such as weddings?
The floor space will be large enough to accommodate 16 tables with 96 people. If more space is needed, we can place tables and chairs on the stage. Unfortunately, Tom has mentioned that large wedding rentals are becoming less common as people are opting to get married outside of churches.
- How long will the renovation take?
The Woodbrook Players would like to perform the musical 1776 the second week of May. If permits, bidding and construction go according to schedule we will have a stage in place by April 15. If there are delays then we will address them along the way, prioritizing construction accordingly.
- Are we confident that the hall can support the weight of a stage and lights?
We will have a structural engineer review the requirements, looking at the floor and ceiling to ensure that the space can accommodate the stage and lighting system.
- What about electricity load and lighting?
We will have an electrician review existing infrastructure as well to ensure we can accommodate lights.
- Are we taking into account acoustics?
Although we are not working with an acoustical engineer, we will ensure the space works well acoustically.
- Do we have enough money in the budget - is $150k a strict budget?
This budget was characterized as "comfortable" by two of the architecture firms who submitted proposals, including Carl and the builder he is recommending. We aim to fit within that budget but understand there may be unknowns and overruns as we get further into construction. We won't really know how tight the budget is until we receive bids back from contractors.
- When the stage is complete, will the stage be truly functional so that the Woodbrook Players will be happy with the results now and in the future?
Woodbrook Players Director Ron Oaks has been involved with the process from the beginning and he is optimistic that the final outcome will be a practical/workable solution.
- What about use by the Senior Center and Pre-School?
The stage will be available to be used by more than the Woodbrook Players, including the Pre-School, Senior Center, and church committees/events (such as Summer Vacation Bible School). Having a stage will be a real asset for the church which will engage current members and potentially attract new ones to our congregation.