Remodeling project to begin in Jere Whitson, Backdoor Playhouse to relocate operations

Construction has been an ever-present constant on Tennessee Tech’s campus this year. After Centennial Plaza and South Hall are completed, the Jere Whitson Building, home of the ever-popular Backdoor Playhouse, is set to undergo construction.

“I am enthusiastic about the potential improvements to the Backdoor Playhouse as well as the Jere Whitson Building and I am hopeful that the University ‘powers-that-be’ will be true to their word, and that the construction work will done in a timely manner,” said Mark Creter, artistic director of the Backdoor Playhouse. “I am trying to be cautiously optimistic.”

During the construction, productions put on by the campus theater will be taken to a new location.

“The staff of the Backdoor Playhouse will be moving to Foundation Hall during the renovations. We will have a full season of productions next year,” said Creter. “I am talking to the Cookeville Performing Arts Center and the Wesley Arena Theatre about renting their facilities for our shows. As soon as I have secured our various performance locations, I will announce it on our home page.”

Changes will be made to the Backdoor Playhouse, which has been going strong for the past 50 years. Creter said the entire auditorium would have a whole new look.

“The auditorium will have new (and more comfortable) seating, new floors and carpeting, new ceiling and newly painted walls,” he said. “A new entrance into the lobby will be created as well as new windows.”

With the excitement of a new home for the Backdoor Playhouse comes the apprehension of the move. After South Hall is finished this semester and faculty, staff and students can go back to their normal schedules during the Fall 2015 semester, it will be Jere Whitson’s turn to have its transformation.

“The construction is needed as many of the buildings are old and in bad shape. While I am cautiously enthusiastic about the changes to the Backdoor Playhouse, it will be very difficult for the theater program to be without a home for two years,” said Creter. “If a similar renovation was done to the football stadium or the Bryan Fine Arts Building, I wonder how those programs would be dealt with. Again, if everything goes according to plan it will be excellent, but that is a big ‘if.’”