After a couple of years of construction and a lot of hype, the Lawrenceville Performing Arts Center is days away from opening to the public.

The performing arts center, which is a de facto expansion of the Aurora Theatre since that organization is contracted to operate the facility, will host its “A Million Dreams Grand Opening Celebration” from Oct. 22 until Oct. 24. Aurora officials said the opening weekend will be split into two options for residents: a VIP experience and general public tours.

“Gearing up to program and manage this massive expansion while attempting to raise $5 million during a pandemic is not how I imagined this process would begin,” Aurora Co-Founder, President and CEO Anthony Rodriguez said.

“But none of this has dampened our enthusiasm for the Grand Opening Celebration. Small groups experiencing a personal and immersive introduction is much better than any rubber chicken gala.”

The Lawrenceville Performing Arts Center cost $35 million to build, with the Aurora committed to paying $5 million — which is part of a fundraising effort the group has taken on — to the city as a reimbursement for some of the construction cost.

The center includes a 500-seat grand theater with a lift in its stage, as well as a black box theater, spaces that can be used for various community purposes, a rehearsal space, dressing rooms, a costume shop and an outdoor performing space in addition to other amenities. Aurora officials said they anticipate having enough performing space between various stages — the organization will also continue to use its existing performance venue — that touring productions will be able to use the performing arts center for performances as well.

They have also said partnerships with the School of the Arts at Central Gwinnett High School and Georgia Gwinnett College will be possible with the new space.

“I am as excited as I have ever been about what the Lawrenceville Arts Center will mean for the community,” Rodriguez said. “The possibilities are endless.”

The VIP experiences will be offered on Oct. 22 and Oct. 23, and tickets will cost $150. Tours will take place at varying times between 5:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. on both days.

The public tours will be offered throughout the day on Oct. 24, starting at noon, and there will a front of house tour option and a backstage tour option.

The front of house tour, which includes the grand theater, the grand-theater lobby, the Bartow and Leslie Morgan Cabaret theater and the Lawrenceville Arts Center Courtyard. Tickets will cost $10.

The backstage tour will include the Borders Rehearsal Hall, Thurmon Family Costume Shop and the catwalk over the grand theater. Tickets for this tour will cost $15.

Tickets for both public tours can be purchased at tickets.auroratheatre.com/overview/public-tours and the tickets for the VIP experience can be purchased at tickets.auroratheatre.com/overview/vip-tours.

I'm a Crawford Long baby who grew up in Marietta and eventually wandered to the University of Southern Mississippi for college. Earned a BA in journalism (double minor in political science and history). Previously worked in Florida and Clayton County.

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