Lyceum Theater Renovation – Restoring Its State-of-the-art Charm

2022-12-02T04:10:25-05:00December 2nd, 2022|

The renovation of the Lyceum Theatre took one and a half year, and was finished in 2022. Zuo Chengli, the chief designer of renovation, introduced that his colleges and him are very proud of the renovation, for which is the most likely origins of its completion in the 1930s by the expert assessment. Now, the theatre is formally opened, where an urban comedy “Baoxingli” is being put on stage to brace for the premiere on 23rd September.

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Earlier this year, at the special event of “Enjoy Show · Enjoy Life – New Year’s Eve 2022”, the Lyceum Theatre was ranked as one of the first ten institutions to receive the nameplate and certificate of ‘Show Life’. The famous theatre, covering a floor area of about 2,807 square meters, is located in the Hengshan Road-Fuxing Road Historical and Cultural Character Conservation Area, at the corner zone of Maoming South Road and Changle Road.

In 1930, the Lyceum Theatre was relocated from the crossing of Nomen Road and Yuanmingyuan Road to No.57 Maoming South Road in Huangpu District, then rebuilt. It covers a floor area of about 2,807 square meters, which architectural style shows an Italian Renaissance mansion on a whole with a partial influence of neoclassical style. In 1994, the theatre was selected as one of the second batch of outstanding historical buildings in Shanghai. Since its opening in 1931, the Lyceum Theatre has undertaken a number of performances from home and abroad, which witnessed the history of Shanghai stage for nearly a hundred years. Among them, Mei Lanfang, the master of Peking Opera, made his first comeback after stopped performing for eight years to present the opera of “Assassinating the Tiger” at the Lyceum Theatre in 1945. During the Anti-Japanese War, he has kept a beard and stopped performing to show the faith of fighting to the end. In 1959, Butterfly Lovers, a famous violin concerto about a traditional love story of Liang Shanbo and Zhu Yingtai in China, premiered in Lyceum Theatre. In 2009, the Peony Pavilion, a Kunqu opera co-produced by China and Japan, which is another famous Chinese drama, also made its debut here. Likewise, the theatre attracted plays or operas from all over the world. In 2010, the British stage play “The Mousetrap” from London premiered at the Lyceum Theatre.

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According to the introduction of Zuo Chengli, the Lyceum Theatre plot is an irregular quadrilateral due to the road limitation. In the design of theatre renovation, the architects creatively transformed the restriction into architectural features, which included making a corner cut at the corner of the road to form the main facade of the building, and setting the main entrance here to make the interior space of the building more spacious. If we take a bird’s-eye view of the theatre, we would find that the Lyceum Theatre presents a diamond- shaped in plane. The main building material of the theatre is dark red Taishan bricks in the facades, and there are complex and fine golden column caps, moldings, carvings and components, all which creates a glorious splendor of the theatre. On the basis of intensive research and demonstration, the expert team worked out the solution that would cause the least damage and load increase to the theatre’s existing structure. The team of Shanghai Construction No.4 (Group) went through the urban construction archives to carefully check the historical data, and “authentically” restored the original style of the theatre through 3D scanning, digital modeling and other technical means.

the Lyceum Theatre

The technicians analyzed the problems that appeared in the facades as mildew, breakage and peeling of Taishan bricks and rusty spots on the granite stone, so they think that the restoration shall follow the principle of minimal intervention to restore the facade’s historical appearance. According to the original style, the technicians customized and replaced Taishan bricks to restore the original color of granite veneer through soil pasting and cleaning. Meanwhile, they shaped and corrected the steel window frame to restore its original appearance with distinct character, as well as supplementing the fittings. Somewhat differently, they replaced the single-layer glass to the insulating glass, so that it can improve the sound-insulated performance of the theater as a whole. Now, we can see the mark of times changing either from the facade’s Taishan bricks, granite, fancy moldings, steel doors and windows or from the historic corner gates, canopies, cast iron rain pipes and the iconic signboard “lyceum”.

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After the renovation, it gives the first impression to audiences that are resplendent dome and antique floors when entering the Lyceum Theatre. In the latest round of restoration, the vestibule floor of the theatre has been recovered into cast-in-place terrazzo according to the pattern of the year, while it was once covered with beige marble in previous restorations. The original appearance is reproduced by traditional construction technology with the pattern of terrazzo surrounded by copper strips in a three-colour pattern, which lines with the terrazzo staircase on either side of the theatre vestibule. It is more magnificent that the gold foil veneer is used partially in the warm gray wall. Similarly, it refers to the historical drawings to remove the original sculpt of walls and picture frames on both sides of the building and replace new gypsum modeling lines.

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The most distinguishing feature of the Lyceum Theatre is its dome. After going through all the vicissitudes for 91 years, the theatre’s finish is no longer as magnificent as it once was. However, as a key conservation area, it cannot be replaced as a whole. While making efforts to protect and repair the dome, the restoration team flexibly adopted modern to install the monitoring sensors and devices in key parts, so that it can realize the dynamic monitoring the “service” status in real time and ensure the safe use in the theatre.

During the renovation, the workers found historical line decorations with red and gold edging on the second floor of Lyceum Theatre according to the introduction of Zuo Chengli. The design team continued to use the coloring match in the theatre wall decorations. Meanwhile, the construction layer of walls were optimized, and the perforated sound-absorbing boards were installed to maximize the restoration of original construction style and improve the acoustic effect when the audience watching the performance in the theatre. The number of light fixtures in the theater is multiplied by several times compared with the previous in the theatre. Every corner around the theatre is enlightened by the overhead lighting, and the umbrageous sense of the old theater has been stripped away.

In the auditorium, the number of theater seating increased from 681 to 702 after the renovation, including 438 seats on the ground floor and 264 seats on the second floor. It gives us a more spacious feel by the precise arrangement. A large number of decorative lines are applied in the dome, which is divided into eight equal parts in the middle by decorative pattern lines, and the inspiration of renovation also comes from the drawings in 1931.

In order to ensure a safe and healthy performance environment, the renovation team made a large number of improvements on which the audience could not see. Among them, the theater proscenium has been further widened, all 31 platform booms were replaced to increase the load from 220kg to 500kg. It makes the dressing room feel more modern and comfortable. Meanwhile, they renewed the sprinkler and other fire-fighting equipment, as well as the venue code and digital sentinel have been installed in place.

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#Performing art center #Theater seating #The Lyceum Theatre

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