The Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, devastated by Hurricane Ike in September, has been on a long road to recovery for the past seven and a half months. In just seven days, the majestic music venue opens its doors for the first time since Sept. 13, welcoming back concertgoers with open arms. The Pavilion’s $9.5 million renovation that began in December is nearing completion just in time for the venue’s 20th season.
The newly renovated Pavilion opens its 20th season with performances by the Dave Matthews Band May 1 and Kenny Chesney May 3. With three sell-outs already on record – Buzzfest XXII May 10, No Doubt May 31 and Coldplay July 22 – more are expected throughout the season. Other concerts slated for 2009 include REO Speedwagon and Styx June 7, Rascal Flatts June 14, Kid Rock and Lynyrd Skynyrd June 30, Chicago and Earth, Wind & Fire July 10, Aerosmith with ZZ Top July 17, New Kids on the Block July 18, Rod Steward July 24, The Fray July 25, Crüe Fest 2 Aug. 7, Def Leppard Aug. 19, Incubus Aug. 21, Depeche Mode Aug. 30, Nickelback Sept. 12 and The Allman Brothers Band Oct. 17. More shows will be announced in the coming weeks.
“Our 20th season is looking to be our best season yet with three sell-outs so far and more to come, possibly even opening weekend,” said Jerry MacDonald, president and CEO of The Pavilion. “This is a positive indicator of two things: The concert industry in general is still fairing well in the tough economy and the Houston market specifically is ready for live music at The Pavilion once again. I invite everyone to come out and experience the new Pavilion as we celebrate 20 years of great entertainment.”
Along with celebrating 20 seasons in operation, The Pavilion commemorates 20 years of outstanding arts programming. Appropriately titled 20th Season Ovation, the venue’s 2009 performing arts season features events bursting with culture, dance, classical music, old favorites and more. In addition to eight exhilarating performances by the Houston Symphony, The United States Army Field Band & Soldiers’ Chorus makes its Pavilion debut. Houston Ballet returns with a mixed-repertory program, Swan Lake + Two, featuring Act II of “Swan Lake” plus “Jardi Tancat” and “Falling Angels.” And the 14th Annual Children’s Festival erupts with family fun in the fall.
Complete list of The Pavilion’s 20th Season Ovation:
May 15, 8 p.m.--Houston Symphony’s Four Italians
May 21, 8 p.m.--Houston Symphony’s Dancin’ Beneath the Stars
June 12, 8 p.m.--Houston Symphony’s 20th Season Celebration
June 26, 8 p.m.--Texas Music Festival Orchestra
July 3, 8 p.m.--The United States Army Field Band & Soldiers’ Chorus
Sept. 3, 8 p.m.--Houston Symphony’s Rockapella Goes Retro
Sept. 10, 8 p.m.--Houston Symphony’s Viva Filarmónica
Sept. 18, 8 p.m.--Houston Symphony’s Chopin & Tchaikovsky
Oct. 9, 8 p.m.--Houston Ballet’s Swan Lake + Two
Oct. 23, 7:30 p.m.--Houston Symphony’s Hocus Pocus Pops
Nov. 14, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.--14th Annual Children’s Festival
Nov. 15, Noon-5 p.m.--14th Annual Children’s Festival
In September 2008, The Pavilion was severely damaged by Hurricane Ike, ending the season early and causing more than $3 million in damage. Pavilion management and its Board of Directors decided to rebuild the venue, making much needed improvements. The $9.5 million renovation included construction of approximately 2,000 new reserved seats and a larger canopy structure to cover all 6,387 seats. Lawn capacity is now 9,653, giving The Pavilion a total capacity of 16,040. A new state-of-the-art sound system also was installed on the lawn to provide a better quality of sound to lawn guests.
Internationally acclaimed architect Horst Berger, designer of the original structure, designed the new tensile fabric canopy making The Pavilion even more beautiful than before.
“In five months, we have managed to complete a project that could have taken two years,” MacDonald said. “It has been an incredibly tight schedule that has required a Herculean effort. I offer my sincere appreciation to all the individuals and companies that have supported The Pavilion on our road to recovery. We have worked with an exceptional group of designers, contractors, architects and other partners to rebuild the facility in record time. We also have had tremendous financial support from the community partners to make this possible.”
In addition to impacting Houston’s music scene, the reopening of The Pavilion also is expected to positively impact area businesses and employment, all good signs for the local economy.
“The Pavilion plays a significant role in weekend business at our Woodlands location,” said Susan Harnan, sales manager for Residence Inn The Woodlands – Market Street. “We already have sellouts on the nights of several concerts including the Dave Matthews Band, No Doubt, Kid Rock, Coldplay and The Fray. Every time a new concert is announced, the volume of calls drastically increases. Folks are ready for The Pavilion to reopen.”
The Pavilion recently hired 190 new part-time employees in addition to rehiring approximately 325 employees from last year. Part-time staff duties include security, ticket takers, ushers, lawn chair attendants, parking attendants, ticket office assistants, cleaning crews and law enforcement.
“We are pleased The Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion is reopening in such grand style,” said Nick Wolda, president of The Woodlands Convention & Visitors Bureau. “It is truly an unbelievably unique setting that is enjoyed by residents and visitors alike. The Pavilion has a remarkable impact on the downtown area of The Woodlands, and we anticipate the reopening will allow its guests to enjoy the millions of square feet of shopping, dining and entertainment that can be found here.”
If you would like more information about The Pavilion and its 20th season, please visit www.woodlandscenter.org or look for The Pavilion on MySpace and Facebook.