The Industry

A Tour of the Upgrades at the Marquis Theater

Nearly a decade after taking over the Marquis Theater, the folks at Soda Jerk Presents have upgraded the venue by remodeling it, installing new sound and lighting systems and expanding the bar.

Mike Barsch, owner of Soda Jerk Presents and the Marquis, says a big portion of the wall that used to separate the bar and the main room was taken out, which helped open the space. Also, steel mesh-like drink rails on the tiers have replaced the solid walls that were once there, giving the area more of a blow-through feel, which Barsch says also makes the room feel more open.

Barsch says they did some rearranging of the tiers, changing their elevations and general layout.

“I think it’s giving everybody better vantage points to the stage,” he adds. “We added another stairway that comes in from the lobby up to the top tier. Before, you had to walk in and then around to get to that tier at the very end of the room. Now you can just walk straight up to it. Overall, I think it’s really improved the flow. On busier nights, it’s a lot easier to get around the club and get through the crowd just because there are more egress points to move around.”

While the Marquis’s dance and bar areas still have hardwood floors, the tiers that were previously carpeted now have rubber flooring, which Barsch says is very durable, easy to clean, and good for soundproofing. The dressing rooms also got rubber flooring, as well as a new coat of paint.

The Marquis used to have P.A. speakers stacked on either side of the stage; the new D&B Audiotechnik Q1 PA system has four speakers per side that hang from the ceiling, which Barsch says also improves the sight line from the side of the stage. Once they put in the new setup, he say, it made the stage feel wider and bigger. A new stage lighting system was reconfigured to work with the appearance of the P.A. and the way it hangs.

“I think, overall, the way the band is lit is substantially better than what it was,” Barsch says. “That improves the experience, as well.”

In addition to the other upgrades, the bar was extended, with one more service area added.

“I think it’s all part of growing and maintaining a level of success,” Barsch concludes. “You want to keep upping the bar and creating a great experience for the fans who are coming to see the show — and, of course, the bands. And the reaction thus far has been great.”

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Jon Solomon writes about music and nightlife for Westword, where he's been the Clubs Editor since 2006.
Contact: Jon Solomon