Music Hall unveils plans for new “Music Hall Lounge”


One of New England’s most successful and historic theaters is upgrading its small venue on Congress Street in downtown Portsmouth. The new “The Music Hall Lounge” is an exciting new venue that will offer a nightclub vibe with flexible seating options, bar and food service, and an open concept that will appeal to a diverse audience. Formerly known as “The Loft”, the updated venue is currently under construction and will open early this summer.

Music Hall General Manager Tina Sawtelle said, “Over the years, our customers have told us they want a dynamic, comfortable space that allows for greater social interaction between our guests and between performers and the public. This renovation will allow us to attract and welcome emerging artists, local talents, actors, authors, etc. And it will also greatly improve our rental capacity. »

The stage at the 100-seat venue will be visible from the street, inviting passers-by to see the action inside. The Music Hall is working with Studio KL and Market Street Architects on the project. Principal Rob Harbeson says the big difference people will notice is the versatility of the space; “The Music Hall Lounge will have a modern, commercial feel with updated lighting and audiovisual equipment, in addition to many warm elements throughout the theater, including wood features, a fireplace, a variety of seating options and large splashes of color to create a real cabaret atmosphere.”

The original Music Hall opened in 1878 as a vaudeville theater. In 1987, the non-profit organization was founded and a massive restoration effort followed. The grand historic Victorian theater is the oldest in NH and seats nearly 900 people. Eleven years ago, the organization expanded its performing arts offering by converting a former retail space on Congress Street into a small black box theater.

It was time for a change of space, says Monte Bohanan, director of communications and community engagement at the Music Hall. After closing the venue at the start of the pandemic, the Music Hall team assessed the space and created a plan to bring it back to life, with new technology, flexible seating options and much-needed aesthetic updates. After reviewing business models to use space efficiently, renovations began to ‘future proof’ the smaller venue in September 2021, allowing us to free up further funds without launching a fundraising campaign or seeking funding elsewhere.”

Bohanan added, “This transformation of the old ‘Loft’ into ‘The Music Hall Lounge’ will attract a more diverse audience and allow us to showcase local musicians and talent. stage from anywhere. This is an exciting time as we continue to play an important role in making Portsmouth a significant arts and cultural destination in the region.

The revitalized space will continue to host high-quality programming, including national and international musical artists, comedians and authors. It will also renew its rental space offers for business meetings and private events. The Music Hall is planning a series of soft openings, with a grand opening scheduled for mid-July 2022.


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