Bells and Whistles
The Roy E. Disney Center for the Performing Arts
It's really impossible to imagine just how spectacular the National Hispanic Cultural Center's new performing arts complex is without glimpsing it with your own eyes. The closest comparison here in town is UNM's Center for the Arts, but the new Roy E. Disney Center—however unfortunate the name—is a 21st century complex with all the snappy, high-tech bells and whistles you'd expect from a brand new $24 million state of the art performance complex.
Like UNM's center, the Roy E. Disney complex consists of several venues of varying size. The first and smallest of these, the Wells Fargo Auditorium, was actually constructed four years ago when the National Hispanic Cultural center first opened. This intimate 97-seat theater has since been used to screen Spanish-language films and small theatrical and dance productions.
Most of the cinematic action will now be transferred to the brand new Bank of America Film Theater, a plush 288-seat cinematheque with THX surround sound and the infrastructure to accommodate almost any film format. The National Hispanic Cultural Center intends this full-fledged movie house to become the premiere venue for Spanish-language films in New Mexico.
The sparkliest jewel in the Roy E. Disney crown, though, is without a doubt the 691-seat Albuquerque Journal Theater. As you walk toward the entrance, the first thing you'll probably notice are the elegant copper lamps descending from the sealing, which match the copper faces of the doors to the theater. On the other hand, the first thing catching your eye might well be the extensive beer and wine bar situated directly between the entrances. (Do I know you, or do I know you?)
Inside, the theater is even more awe-inspiring. The seating space is about half that of UNM's Popejoy Hall. The theater is made even more intimate by the vertical alignment of the balcony seating. Every stool in the house will put you close to the action taking place on the gigantic stage. With its perfect acoustics and state of the art sound, lighting and staging systems, the Albuquerque Journal Theater can put up any production imaginable, from large Broadway musicals requiring complex set changes to big band concerts to full-scale operas.
The Roy E. Disney Center has plenty of other bells and whistles to recommend itself, from a swanky green room to full laundry facilities to a complex of dressing rooms. It's also got two large dance studios upstairs along with various conference areas, a large patio overlooking the Bosque, and space for planned recording and production studios. For you imbibers, the second story also has another wine and beer bar. Many of these performance and practice spaces will be rented out to various performance groups around town.
The National Hispanic Cultural Center will introduce the new complex to the public with Maravilla, a 14-day celebration stretching over the next two weeks. Its close location to Downtown should make the Roy E. Disney Center a staple of the Albuquerque entertainment scene. I'm told the complex has booked performances by various local, national and international acts through June of next year. For details log on to www.nhccnm.org.