“It’s more of an infrastructure change,” said Mike Trapp, RRCA director. “Our primary performances are dance and we noticed a lot of soft spots on the stage.”

When the River Raisin Centre for the Arts building opened in the 1930s, it was strictly a movie house — the Monroe Theatre — with rows of seating all the way up to a giant screen.

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It wasn’t until 1987 when live performances premiered at the RRCA that a thrust stage was added. Now, that same stage, last upgraded more than 15 years ago, is getting another redo.

“It’s more of an infrastructure change,” said Mike Trapp, RRCA director. “Our primary performances are dance and we noticed a lot of soft spots on the stage.”

The upgrades are thanks to state Rep. Joseph Bellino, R-Monroe, who was able to get the RRCA $73,000 in grants leftover from the general fund.

“(Bellino) used to be on the board, so he knew we had a need,” Trapp said. “We aren’t supported by tax money so raising money is the hardest part.”

Work on the stage began about three weeks ago and Trapp hopes most of the work will be done by July 4. The RRCA is working against the clock with its youth production’s performances of “Beauty and the Beast” slated for July 19-21.

Even with most of the stage being completed in the coming weeks, Trapp said people won’t really notice a difference.

“The spring floor may not be done in time, but it will definitely be done before ‘The Nutcracker,’” Trapp said. “It will be a lot safer, but will look the same.”

Volunteers did the tear-down of the previous floor and members of the RRCA’s tech staff are doing most of the construction.

“We are so grateful to have so many people who support us,” Trapp said.

The design of the new stage was done by local architectural firm James S. Jacobs Architects, with changes to the RRCA stage including added metal studs and a fire-treated wood floor. The biggest change will be underneath the stage.

Part of the stage redo also includes $26,000 to refurbish the RRCA’s 1953 Baldwin piano. The goal is to create a place underneath the stage to store the piano and a pulley system to raise the instrument onto the stage when needed.

“The piano gets used as a table a lot and we didn’t want that anymore,” Trapp said.

With the piano being stored under the stage, the RRCA will end up losing about half of its previous storage.

“In theater, you reuse props over and over again, but you can’t if there’s no storage,” Trapp said. “Storage is everything, but it’s OK because the piano will be safe.”

When presented the grant, the RRCA tossed around the idea of getting a different piano because the Baldwin was “getting tired,” but Trapp said the piano’s history and sound was well worth the tune-up.

Even the national artists who come to play at the theater love the almost 70-year-old piano, he said.

“The piano has a fullness that matches the theater,” Trapp said. “It has a soul-satisfying sound.”

With the loss of storage space, Trapp said he’s going to go through everything that was previously under the stage to see if it’s truly worth keeping.

“We are going to take a serious look at all of the electronics and test everything,” he said.

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With props, lighting and other equipment scattered throughout the building, Trapp is excited to see everything complete.