This past summer, St. John’s University’s Queens campus underwent various renovations, from the addition of a caf√© in Sullivan Hall to remodeled labs in St. Albert’s Hall. The Little Theater also got a facelift, providing the Chappell players with an even more aesthetically-pleasing environment for their various productions.

Construction on the Little Theater began May 2 and lasted until the beginning of September, as crews installed new lighting, sound systems, carpeting, and various other features.

“The new ceiling is tiered and lighted, giving the theater the look of an amphitheater,” said junior Joe Cantalupo, president of the Chappell Players. “Even the bathrooms were renovated… it gives the theater an even more professional look.”

St. John’s Chief Operations Officer Jim Pellow said that while the Little Theater will never be on the level needed to stage large-scale productions, the new seating and sound system have turned it into “a great theater,” which will seat about 450 patrons.

“Our charge is to fill it with programs so that it’s constantly in use,” he said.

The Chappell Players have already jumped on the opportunity to utilize the theater’s new features.

“They did a great job updating the sound system, since before we didn’t really have much of one,” said Nicholas Caccavo, Director of the Chappell Players and a 2004 St. John’s graduate. “Now that we have an advanced and improved sound system, we have a lot more flexibility and options with what we can do with the space.”

Cantalupo said that the Players are trying to use that flexibility to create a “more physically intense” production, part of which entails having a cast of more than 20 people. Seussical, the first Chappell Players’ production of the year, will be performed almost entirely in song.

“I used to have to work my way around the sound issue,” Cantalupo said, “but this time it won’t be as big of a concern.”

Sophomore Victoria DeMeo, vice-president of the Chappell Players, shared in Cantalupo’s enthusiasm, commenting, “The renovations did not really affect the stage too much aside from a new curtain, but the new seats and lighting will definitely improve the show for the audience, and when you have a happy audience, the energy of the show always goes up.”

Cantalupo seemed confident that the renovations would also increase the morale and popularity of the St. John’s theater program itself.

“Just the talk surrounding the Little Theater has gotten people to know where the theater actually is,” he said. “I used to tell people we were having a show at the Little Theater, and they’d respond ‘We have a little theater?’ So the new look will definitely bring in some new people just to see the renovations, and hopefully to check out a few shows.”

But the renovations aren’t complete just yet. “Parts of the stage were flooded over the summer,” Cantalupo said. “Therefore, a second phase of renovations are in the works for either winter break or next summer, which will fix the stage, add monitors to the green rooms, and even redo the lobby.”

With all these renovations taking place, Caccavo expressed hope for the success of the Chappell Players, noting an improvement in the overall attitudes of the actors.

“I’ve already noticed that everyone has a much more positive attitude just because the atmosphere is more positive,” he said. “The new look has a lot more life, which plays into everyone’s energy.”

Seussical debuts on Friday, October 3rd, and will be the first production to use the new sound system. The Chappell players have three other productions planned for the rest of the year: a Western-themed Cabaret later in the fall, Murder by Poe in the early spring, and Variations on the Story of the Three Little Pigs in the late spring. In addition, the theater honors society, Alpha Psi Omega, plans on holding various functions, including a dance concert, while other student-produced plays will also be performed throughout the year.