Menlo Creative Arts Members Anticipate Spieker Center for the Arts with Optimism and Excitement


Sylvie Venuto

Construction on the new Spieker Center for the Performing Arts has finally finished. With the new building, Menlo drama and dance programs will have more space, resources and opportunities. Staff photo: Sylvie Venuto.

Danielle McNair, Staff Writer

Construction on the new Spieker Center for Performing Arts (SCPA) is wrapping up, and the Spieker Center Ribbon Cutting and Gala is set to take place on Saturday, Nov. 14. As the new facility will soon be revealed to the entire Menlo community, students and staff of the Upper School Creative Arts Department are full of anticipation and excitement.

Prior to the SCPA, most Menlo musicals took place in Florence Moore Auditorium (FloMo). This space holds fond memories and was home to many successful Menlo drama productions. However, not only was the space shared by both Menlo Upper School and Menlo College, but the theater also had many limitations. 

Junior Tucker Gold has bittersweet feelings toward the transition from productions in FloMo to the SCPA. “FloMo is cool because it is intimate, so I am really going to miss that aspect, but the space set limitations. The theater made productions more difficult. [For example], in ‘Noises Off,’ we were really restricted because of space, which limited our creativity,” Gold said. During “Noises Off,” seats had to be removed from the first few rows of the theater to extend the stage and put in ramps. Some of those limitations included the size of the stage and the lighting technology; every piece of the production had to be laid out so precisely in order for it to run smoothly.

Upper School dance teacher Angela Curotto-Pierson, who helps choreograph dance numbers for Menlo productions, shares Gold’s opinion on FloMo’s limitations. “FloMo has been especially difficult for dance, both in productions and in the [annual] Dance Concert. [We] are confined to the space on stage. When I tried to navigate how to move people around and space everyone properly and effectively, it was difficult. Everything felt limited,” Curotto-Pierson said. 

While FloMo may not have been the ideal theater for productions, and as the Menlo community transitions to the SCPA, students and staff members fantasize about the future of the Menlo Creative Arts Department. Many of the students and staff members interviewed for this story anticipated a vast number of new opportunities with performing in SCPA. 

“I am excited because I think the new space will really allow [Creative Arts Director Steven] Minning to utilize his creativity. The more resources there are available, the more we can take the vision in our head and put that on stage,” Gold said. “There are so many more opportunities now, and those opportunities will come about because of the potential this building has.” 

Another highlight of the new building is the green room. “The green room is where we prepare for the shows all together,” senior Langley Ward said. This room will serve as a backstage where performers wait when they are not on stage.

“The basic things that FloMo did not have are going to make a huge difference in the Spieker Center,” Curotto-Pierson said. “It is such a privilege to be able to house everything in the facility. There will be dressing rooms for the performers, workshops to build and store sets and closets to house costumes, all in the same building. Even just having a curtain that opens and closes using technology is a huge upgrade. It is all the little things that will add up to make this space even more special. It truly is state-of-the-art.”

Ward is also excited to have members of the community experience the Spieker Center as audience members. “[I am] really excited for people to see the new theater and get a different experience than in FloMo. Everything from the visual experience down to the new seats will all make a difference in the audience’s experience coming to a Menlo production. [I am] looking forward to students, faculty and family to see it and enjoy it just as much as the Creative Arts Department [will],” Ward said.