Royall Tyler to undergo renovations


The 41-year-old Royall Tyler Theatre will soon be undergoing renovations.

The theatre, formerly the University’s gymnasium, initially opened in 1974.

“It was a beautifully renovated building,” David Godkin, class of ’77, said. “It had really nice theater space, and the backstage areas were terrific.”

Godkin appeared in a production of T.S. Eliot’s “Murder in the Cathedral” in 1974, according to a Dec. 19 University Communications press release.

“The spirit of the place was exactly as I remembered, except it was getting worn. It was a little bit shabby,” Godkin said about a visit to the Royall Tyler Theatre in 2009.

A $215,000 fundraising campaign was launched October 2014 in an attempt to restore the theatre, according to the press release. The theatre department has wanted to do renovations for many years, the press release stated.

However, they lacked the necessary funding until Ed Tracy, class of ’76, with support from Keith Gaylord,’76 and Jonathan Bourne, ’77, came up with an idea: holding a 40th anniversary celebration of Royall Tyler’s opening during UVM’s 2014 Homecoming and Family Weekend in mid-October, according to the release.

The department had the idea to use the weekend as a launch for the fundraising campaign, the release stated.

President Tom Sullivan attended a luncheon in Billings Lounge honoring Royall Tyler’s anniversary and made a special announcement, according to the release. His office, in conjunction with the College of Arts and Sciences, will contribute $90,000 to the campaign and challenged alumni to contribute the remainder, Sullivan said.

The UVM foundation encouraged alumni, the UVM community and patrons of the theatre to donate by purchasing a new seat, or section of seats, the release stated.

After the campaign announcement, Godkin took a lead role in urging alumni to make a collective donation of $30,000 to name the center section of chairs for classes of the 1970’s and ‘80s, the release stated.

Gregory Ramos, chair of UVM’s Theatre Department, said the theatre is, “a gem well worth maintaining.”

“It’s really kind of a magical space,” Ramos said. “We can produce small, very intimate pieces here. And we can also do big musicals like ‘Godspell’ or ‘Cabaret.’”