AUSTIN (KXAN) - Thursday night the curtains will open on the new ZACH and its state-of-the-art Topfer Theatre with a black-tie gala, the first in the theatre's 80-year history.
Actress and Broadway singing star Bernadette Peters will christen the new Karen Kuykendall stage inside the theatre with a performance starting at 6 p.m.
Topfer Theatre is named in honor of Mort Topfer, a philanthropist and founding partner of Dell who is also known for leadership roles at Motorola and Advanced Micro Devices.
The event begins with a pre-dinner cocktail reception in the theatre, followed by a seated dinner under a 450-seat tent set in place on the outdoor People's Plaza.
In addition, a featured scene of "Rapunzel" letting down yards of her hair from the new "Juliet" balcony -- named after longtime patron and supporter Deanna Serra -- will greet those arriving at ZACH.
Saturday night, the celebration continues with a performance by Brian Stokes Mitchell, Broadway star of "Ragtime" and Tony Award winner for "Kiss Me Kate."
Mitchell will be joined by other ZACH performers in a review that will include a special sneak peak at "Ragtime," which opens on Oct. 17.
In addition, local musicians Ginger Leigh, John Pointer, Rick Trevino, ZACH's Disco Divas, and the cast of "Xanadu" will play on the transformed Kleberg Stage, and ZACH's artists, alumni and DJ Manny are set to perform under the tent on the People's Plaza through 11:30 p.m.
The Saturday night progressive party also includes some of Austin's best food vendors placed at stations throughout ZACH's campus.
The expansion of the facility was paid for in part after a city bond election raised $10 million, plus a direct-appeal campaign that yielded nearly $9 million from major donors. It was designed by Andersson-Wise Architects, the same firm that designed the ACL at The Moody Theatre venue.
Inside, ZACH's new stage is comparable to large Broadway theatres, with a fly house for flying in sets, the ability to track large scenic elements from 20-foot wings on each side of the stage, a fully-trapped stage floor, an orchestra pit, and the latest technology in lighting, video and sound.
The Silver LEED-certified 32,000 square foot structure and plaza is surrounded by a large rain garden, filled with native plantings and pedestrian paths that connect the campus with Austin's famed hike-and-bike park trail.
"The Topfer Theatre creates an extraordinary home for Austin's Theatre that will serve as a hub for Central Texas' vital cultural community," said ZACH's producing artistic director Dave Steakley . "Our new technical capabilities will enable us to transfer new works originated at ZACH to our colleagues at other regional theatres across the country or to Broadway.
" ZACH will continue to be a launch pad for the development and premiere of new musicals and plays, featuring the work of Austin designers, craftspeople, and actors."
The musical " Ragtime" will be the Topfer Theatre's first production, starting Oct. 17, with the champagne opening and press night on Oct. 25.
Groundbreaking for ZACH's expansion took place in February. ZACH employs more than 600 actors, musicians and designers each year. It is the longest-running theatre company in Texas.
ZACH is located at 1510 Toomey Road.
More than 100 trees covered in lights now shine bright throughout Zilker Park. The Trail of Lights is open for another season.
A 10-year-old was killed while standing outside of a vehicle which lost control during the icy conditions, DPS said.
Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg heads to court this week as a defendant in a civil trial that could oust her from office.
Santa visited Austin early on Sunday, joining hundreds of motorcyclists for their annual Toy Run.
Late Saturday night into early Sunday morning, a light band of freezing drizzle traversed the I-35 corridor eastward. With sub-freezing temperatures, even the light precipitation created major problems.
Austin Police confirm they have located an 82-year-old women who went missing last night.