construction

Love on first site tour for Muscos


When Sebastian P. “Paul” Musco and his wife Marybelle saw it for the first time, they were speechless — but only for a moment.

“Wow, that’s a big one,” Paul laughed, his arms out as if to embrace it.

“Oh, isn’t it just beautiful,” Marybelle exclaimed, pointing at it and laughing with her husband.

It was their namesake: The Marybelle and Sebastian P. Musco Center for the Arts. They donned their hard hats and holding hands, they stepped inside.

people at construction site

Marybelle and Sebastian P. Musco hold hands before stepping into their namesake performing arts center for the first time.

At the Heart of a Center


Since the groundbreaking in 2013, the Musco Center has been in the spotlight of the performing arts community at Chapman University. For the last two years, the Center has been in the process of being built from below the ground up. It is still a work in progress, but one moving at a rapid clip. Onsite construction managers are optimistic about a sooner-rather-than-later date to lay down the hard hats and draw back the curtain.

Paul and Marybelle, lovers of opera, dance, music and theater, took up the lead to draw supporters to help create a professional, technologically advanced as well as comfortable home for the performance world of Chapman’s student arts. The Center will provide students the experience to perform and operate on a stage Paul says will be better than any other.

“It’s being built with the ultimate of comfort in mind for everyone. Whether it’s the people coming or the students performing, we’ve taken everything into consideration,” Paul said. “This, when it’s done, may be the best quality performing arts center in Orange County.”

“It’s being built with the ultimate of comfort in mind for everyone. Whether it’s the people coming or the students performing, we’ve taken everything into consideration,” Paul said. “This, when it’s done, may be the best quality performing arts center in Orange County.”

On the Inside Looking Out


With team leaders from McCarthy Builders Companies, Inc. and ABACUS Project management guiding the way, Marybelle and Paul were ushered to a catwalk in the first tier balcony. Marybelle walked right up to the edge, looked over and gasped.

people walking through construction

The Muscos get the grand tour of the Women of Chapman stage in the Musco Center.


“It’s just incredible – it’s marvelous,” Marybelle remarked. Her gaze moved through the interior of the Julianne Argyros Orchestra hall, which is filled with an intricate web of scaffolding, punctuated in the shadows by the bright glare work lights. next,  in the behind-the-scenes balcony above stage right, she  leaned over the railing to look out onto the cavern of the performance space below.

She likened it to getting to see one’s baby for the first time, albeit a baby made of untold tons of concrete and steel. Instead of a child’s needing wail, there was the sound of clanging metal works and drills.  From waiting in the wings, the group took a trip down a silent, Buick-sized elevator and the hard hat crowd entered stage left.

Paul broke from the crowd, walked to as center of the Women of Chapman Stage as possible, lifted a hand and cheerfully sang out two operatic vowels, stopping himself by laughing and smiling.

Everything Changes


The working progress of the Musco Center has been riding an undercurrent of adaptation. For example,  the original plans the Bette and Wylie Aitken Arts Plaza were adjusted, but you’d have to be subterranean to see it.

A water catch system is being installed to funnel water from the ground to a holding vessel, which allows for more direct downward percolation into the water table, rather than flowing off into storm drains. The placement and arrangement of dressing rooms and suites backstage have been shuffled to allow for easier flow to the wings.

Adjustments here, tweaks there along the way have all been a part of the process and are the norm in any building project say the team leaders of Abacus and McCarthy. But all changes it have been done with one goal in mind: Give something to young performers, the community, and make sure it’s the best there is for them.

“You know, it’s a hard market out there for entertainers — it’s hard to get the experience to get the work,” Paul said.

Marybelle concurred.

“I just hope that the students know we care, and that this is for them,” she said.

 

people smiling

Sebastian P. and Marybelle Musco stand on the Women of Chapman stage in the Musco Center near the end of their first tour.

Theatre Features

  • 88,142 square-foot state-of-the-art theatre
  • 1,044 seating capacity – Orchestra 600, Mezzanine 208, Balcony 236
  • 16 box suites
  • Three-level lobby with box office
  • Proscenium opening 62 feet wide by 36 feet high and 50 feet deepp
  • 50+ stage line sets for lighting, scenery, drops and soft goods
  • Advanced lighting control system and LED stage lighting technology to enhance productions and the student learning experience
  • Nine dressing rooms: one star suite, four star rooms and four ensemble rooms
  • Wardrobe facilities and storage areas for props, A/V and lighting equipment, draperies and instruments
  • Road company production or visiting artists or groups
  • Stage door/security back-of-house entry
  • Split orchestra pit accommodate 30-70 musicians
  • Trap room below the stage, K-SAVE technology, Internet2 capabilities, remote HD cameras


 

Brittany Hanson

Brittany Hanson

2 comments

  • This center will be great for all of Chapman University and the surrounding area! Thank you so much from a mom of Panthers

  • “I just hope that the students know we care, and that this is for them,” That means a whole lot! Can’t wait for this.