Treasure of Dodds Ave. renovating—but still the Legs
The legs are silent. For now. Barking Legs Theater went dark a few weeks ago for renovations. The iconic green legs that sprouted from the ceiling like dancing stalactites have been stored for safekeeping. Barking Legs cofounder Ann Law toured me through the future space that is for the moment marked only by tape on the floor and demolition debris.
Except for the wall creating a passage behind the stage and the ones between bathrooms, every interior wall is gone and very few new ones will replace them. Visitors will first see a smaller ticket area just inside the front door and a much larger open area to the left that can be used for the pre- and post-show chatting. Law also plans to make it available for meetings of book clubs, neighborhood associations and community activists.
This area, including a new handicap-accessible bathroom, is separated from the theater space by one of the few new walls, running floor to ceiling and completely closing the performance area off from the noise of Dodds Avenue.
Inside, the raised dance floor will be the same, but seating will be reconfigured. The main seating area on risers will be pulled away from the back wall and split by a center aisle. A new walkway behind the seating will mean no one will need to walk between audience and performers to reach the lobby or bathrooms.
Walls that once defined the on-the-side backstage area are gone, to be replaced by curtains that can be closed off to create a backstage or be opened up to provide more space for seating or performance. The same kind of flexible seating area also will be on the other side of the stage, and a new system of curtains will mean that extra seating can be opened up easily if needed for larger shows, or the stage area can be reduced for more intimate shows.
Maximum seating will remain at its current 187 people, using Barking Legs’ old seats, which have been reupholstered by a Barking Legs regular who owns North Shore Upholstery.
“When people go, ‘oh god I just don’t want Barking Legs to change,’ I think what they’re saying is ‘will it become like some fancy...like have we gone from a Super 8 motel to now the Ritz Carlton?’ I don’t think so. I don’t want to say it’s the same because nothing is ever the same, but I think we’re looking at just a lot more possibilities,” says Law.
Law is aiming for an Oct. 1 reopening, just in time for Barking Legs’ 21st anniversary in November.
“The whole thing about Barking Legs, and I think the importance of this place, is to have a place that is very fluid,” says Law. “That means we can accommodate a lot more possibilities and open the imagination for other artists to stretch and come up with a wide range of experiences that could happen in this place.”