Chairs to cheer about arrive at Charles Theatre

February 12, 1993|By Stephen Hunter | Stephen Hunter,Film Critic

New this week, exclusively at the Charles Theatre: seats!

Seats you can actually sit in! That caress your rear end and take the ache out of your backside. That do not jab, fold, spindle or mutilate you or collapse under your weight and deposit you on the floor. Yes: seats without a sense of humor. Just plain old . . . chairs!

The legendary rep and art house on Charles Street is in the process of refurbishing its admittedly tacky and frequently broken 486 seats with new upper and lower cushions covered with a "virtually indestructible" blue weave called "Marquessa."

The $40,000 job is being handled by Hayes Seating, of Syracuse, and should be complete by Friday. It has been progressing in sections all this week.

"We had taken shabby chic to the nth degree," admitted the theater's artistic director, Pat Moran. She knew it was time for the job when her own favorite seat -- left side, aisle, last row -- developed a terminal case of sprung-spring-itis, meaning that two large metal prongs projected from it.

"Generally, our regular customers kept their sense of humor about the seats," she said, "though occasionally we'd get someone from the suburbs would raise a stink. It had been an irritant, but this year, it became a major problem. It got so I didn't even like to have the house lights up, because people could see how tacky the seats had become. It became a case of fix the seats or close the theater."

The seats are classic American movie seats from the Heywood-Wakefield Theatrical Seating Company, now out of business.

"You simply couldn't replace them," says David Levy, who owns the theater. "Comparable seats would cost four times as much today."

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