Having completed a huge stage in their renovation process, The Barrymore Theatre, located on Madison’s East Side, is gearing up to open their doors for a packed season of events, not just limited to music.
Their ongoing fundraising campaign, The “Chair-ity Campaign,” provides funding for many improvements in the theater. The first and most obvious of these improvements is new, more comfortable chairs. The layout of the chairs has remained the same, but the new chairs are spacious and brand new.
Other improvements in the renovation process included a new paint job to the interior of the theater which features white and blue details, new floors, as well as new stars in the ceiling and plasterwork.
Zach Richmond, house manager at The Barrymore, had a goal from the renovation process: to make the theater more comfortable and user-friendly for customers.
Despite renovations, The Barrymore retained much of its original look that sets it apart from other Madison theaters. The artwork on the walls in the entranceway still displays masks and the retro feel of the bar are still in great shape. The lights in the ceiling — which look like a starry sky, are also still a feature of the theater, but there are even more now.
Richmond was frank in admitting that the theater experienced a hay-day during the 1990s and 2000s jam band period, with many students from campus flocking to the theater.
“Students [today] don’t seem to understand that the theater is just a short ride from campus,” Richmond said.
Nonetheless, he is excited for many of the events that the theater will be hosting this year. Richmond is confident the renovations, although still in the first phase, will make theater-goers happy with their experience at the Barrymore.
To kick off the year, the theater will be hosting a free community event, “Chooseapalooza,” a fundraiser for Planned Parenthood Wisconsin. The event will feature food, spoken word, and words from author Lauren Peterson and state Rep. Chris Taylor, D-Madison.
Following this event, comedian Kathleen Madigan is coming to the Barrymore. She will be doing a stand-up special in coordination with a Netflix special, and there are only regular admission tickets remaining.
Richmond is particularly excited about Dweezil Zappa, son of Frank Zappa, to come to the Barrymore Nov. 17.
“He does a pretty special tribute for his father, and plays some great music of his own as well,” Richmond said.
Richmond is also excited for the “They Might Be Giants” show Oct. 23. The band is touring with a larger group of musicians this year, including trumpeter Curt Ramm, and always brings a great show to the Barrymore.
Another notable event occuring at the Barrymore this year is “The 2nd Annual Madison Moth Grandslam.” The Moth is a podcast featuring stories from everyday people and airs on the radio as well as streaming services like Spotify. The Barrymore will be hosting a competition in which storytellers compete to get their stories aired.
While the renovation process of the Barrymore Theatre is ongoing, the first major step of adding new seats, new floors, replacing stars in the roof and a new paint job has already improved the aesthetic of the theater significantly. The lineup of shows ranges wide, and the quality of performers does not disappoint.
The Atwood Neighborhood on Madison’s East Side is an absolute gem, with good food around a thriving residential community. I would urge students to look into the lineup of shows at the Barrymore Theatre, and choose a time to make the short trip out. The renovations in the theater will make your experience that much more comfortable and enjoyable.