Wednesday evening we went to Denver’s Boettcher Concert Hall for the first time. This is a theater in the round, the home of the Colorado Symphony. Here’s what the Denver Performing Arts Complex website says about Boettcher:
Boettcher Concert Hall is home to the Colorado Symphony Orchestra and is the nation’s first symphony hall in the round designed to place the audience close to the stage in a unique environment – 80% of the seats are within 65 feet of the stage. Boettcher Concert Hall’s walls are canted at a slight angle to disperse sound and prevent flutter echoes. On each curved surface of the hall is a wave-like band, approximately four feet high, technically called an undulating acoustical facia. These facias diffuse, reflect and channel sound throughout the venue. The seats in Boettcher are custom-designed, made from steam-bent plywood with their backs varying in height from 42 inches to 48 inches.
I found three seating charts for Boettcher, all of them extremely difficult to figure out, and with very little information about accessible seating:
Only the first seating chart has any indication of accessible seating, all of which seems to be in Orchestra 3, Row RR. Our seats were RR 40 and 41. Remember the bit about the custom seats above? Row RR is an orphan row between Row R and Row S, situated in the aisle. All the seats in Row RR are stacking chairs which can be removed to make space for a wheelchair or walker. The seat numbers are marked on the half wall between the aisle and Row S. Apparently if you want to sit in the cheap seats, you’re out of luck; and if you want to splurge on Orchestra 1 so that you can actually see the soloist’s fingers, you’re out of luck.
- Because the entire row consists of temporary seating, a lot of wheelchairs could be accommodated.
- Wheelchair seating is not available at more than one price point or house location.
- We heard ushers tell several groups of patrons that they had tickets for seats that did not exist. This points to either bad box office management or poor usher training.
- Seats for able bodied companions of wheelchair users become quite uncomfortable during a long performance. My husband was staring longingly at the custom-designed steam-bent plywood seats (with lovely red velvet upholstery), and I didn’t blame him.