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High school's renovated auditorium makes for great show

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Let there be theater: Borough President Markowitz cut the ribbon for the newly renovated South Shore Auditorium on May 2.
He can speak, but can he sing?: Borough President Markowitz proved himself a Renaissance man when he jumped on stage to croon with the talented thespians at the Brooklyn Theater Arts High School for their rendition of “Footloose.”
Top class: With more than $750,000 worth of renovations, the Brooklyn Theater Arts High School’s auditorium can stand up to any off-Broadway theater.
The birth of an era: Borough President Marty Markowitz presented Linda Key, the Vital theatre company education director, with a proclamation for the newly renovated South Shore Auditorium’s inaugural production, “Footloose,” on May 2.

Let’s hear it for the boy!

Borough President Markowitz cut the ribbon for the opening of Brooklyn Theater Arts High School’s newly renovated auditorium on May 2 — giving its budding thespians a forum where their expertly timed lines can actually be heard — then joined teens on a rousing rendition of “Footloose” that everyone could happily hear.

“You can actually understand what they’re saying,” exclaimed Steve Sunderlin, the artistic director at Theater Arts High, which used to be South Shore High School. “It’s just night and day.”

The no-longer dilapidated theater, which once suffered from numerous acoustic and technical ailments — including poor lighting and a non-existent sound system — received $750,000 from the borough president’s office, and can now compete with the best of off-Broadway venues.

“It sounds excellent, it’s amazing. It used to be that you couldn’t hear a thing. The acoustics were so bad, everything was bouncing all over the place,” said Sunderlin.

“Now, these kids have a facility that’s as good as any off-Broadway theater, and they can leave the school and get a great internship because of the experience they’re getting here, on stage and off,” he said.

Following the ribbon-cutting ceremony, the school bussed in hundreds of borough middle-school students to fill the audience for the renovated theater’s inaugural production, “Footloose,” where Brooklyn Theater Arts’ students danced and sang in praise of rock ‘n’ roll.

But the best part was that every line came through crisp and clear, Sunderlin said.

“It’s a terrific production and it went great,” he said.

Reach reporter Colin MIxson at or by calling (718) 260-4514.

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Reader Feedback

anonymous from Canarsie says:
Just curious -- did they keep the name of the auditorium, named after the late South Shore Principal Rina Stempel? Stempel was a wonderful, dedicated educator and it would be a shame if she is no longer honored.
May 8, 2012, 9:16 am
Stephen Sunderlin from Brooklyn says:

Yes her name is still over the door to the auditorium, but unfortunately is has not been referred to by that name in our five year there.

We certainly want to honor those who came before us and now that we have such a lovely auditorium for the students to perform we certainly like to know more about Ms. Stempel. Please let us know. Thank you!
May 14, 2012, 2:03 pm

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