Rector Little Theatre's facelift is now complete

Published on
February 25, 2012

Just weeks before her final curtain call, Dr. Rebecca Pettys, professor of theater at Union College, can finally boast the completion of a project that has slowly taken shape over the past three decades. 

Rector Little Theatre now has new seats.

After contributing to a fund since she began working for Union College in 1984, Pettys's farewell performance will be the first time audiences will face the stage from new seats=8Ban event that will mark both the end of an era and the beginning of a new one. 

Union's spring production will be Pettys's only director's chair experience with the updated theater. However, this doesn't dampen her excitement. "I'm just glad it's here. This project wasn't for me, it was for the future," she said. 

The improvements were much needed, as the old seats, which had begun to suffer from metal fatigue, were literally "breaking underneath people," Pettys said.

The project isn't complete just yet, though. Engraved arm plates for chairs are still to be added. These will identify names of donors, whose contributions supplemented the expense. The arm plates will also identify four people Pettys chose to honor because they each "really made a difference in the theater program at Union College," she said.

Dr. Dan Covington, Union College biology professor, is among Pettys's four honorees. Covington has been a frequent performer through the years and is acting in the upcoming play. The chair in his honor will identify him as "performer."

Pettys also chose to recognize Melissa Garrett, Union College librarian, who has volunteered countless hours as a crew member helping most notably with costumes. Garrett's plate will identify her as "costumer."

Dr. Andelys Wood, professor of English at Union, has supported the theater program through consistent financial contributions through the years. Petty's has chosen to honor Wood with a plate identifying her as "friend."

The fourth honorary seat will go Edward D. de Rosset, former president of Union College, whose help with the theater program stems back to Dr. Pettys's first year. The bulk of the theater program's archived images are due to de Rosset's keen eye and many volunteered hours. De Rosset will be identified as "photographer."

There is also a chair reserved for Pettys herself. Her seat is "the best one in the house," she said. Against the wall, on the back row, with only the center aisle separating her from the stage, it gives her an unobstructed view of the action. Her chair will be flanked by the four honorary seats to one side, and a chair she purchased in honor of her late husband, Dr. Robert Pettys, on the other.

The replaced seats have served Rector Little Theatre well. Local movie theater owner Charles Reed Mitchell donated the seats in 1983, the year before Dr. Pettys came to Union College, she said.

Performances for James Goldman's "The Lion in Winter" will be March 22-24 and 30-31. Pettys will both direct and act in the play.