Each seat in the Concord City Auditorium, all 850 of them, was cleaned last week.
The windows were washed, as were the floors, and the dressing rooms are now free of cobwebs and dust.
Some stood on ladders with rags, while others got down on their hands and knees with a bucket of soapy water. And it was all done to help spruce up the Audi for another season – the 111th to be exact.
Every year for three days, volunteers pick a shift and a job. It’s called the Pitch In and has been an annual thing for the last 25 years since the Friends of the Audi took over care and maintenance for the theater.
“It’s polishing and shining the place, sprucing it up for the new year,” said Carol Bagan, who helped create the Friends of the Audi.
The first one lasted about six weeks with more than 700 people helping out, but that was when they repainted the entire interior, fixed the rotting floor and really freshened up the place after years of neglect.
“It looked dreadful,” Bagan said. “The first thing was to make it bright and beautiful again.”
Now it only takes three six-hour days split up into two equal shifts. Volunteers decide what day and time they want to come in and pick a job from the board. Many have been doing it for so long or have a specific skill that they do the same work year after year.
“At this point it’s just removing the dust and dirt for the year,” said Pitch In organizer Joye Olson.
We’re talking about retired surgeons wiring a television and former lawyers cleaning sinks in the top floor dressing rooms. Nobody really cares what they do, as long as it helps keep the Audi as a preferred destination to catch a concert, play or lecture.
“People come around their work schedules,” Bagan said.
The “free” work also helps keep the costs of operation down. Since nobody has to be hired to do all the cleaning, painting and repairs (outside of a really tough job), they don’t have to raise costs for organizations to use the facility and people to enjoy it.
“I enjoy the theater and therefore I contribute as I can,” said Bobbi Ramsay, who has volunteered the last four years.
In addition to all the things we talked about before, the seats, both on the floor and in the orchestra, are polished.
“Every year, every seat gets washed and polished,” Bagan said.
The floor and stage both get a good shine, while all the little places where dirt hides are sought out. It’s not a good time to be a dust bunny.
The volunteers also just so happened to put together a mailing promotion for the upcoming season that was distributed to over 5,000 local households.
Over the last quarter-century, they’ve done a lot of jobs at the Audi – some as big as moving all the seats and redoing the floors.
“I’ve done everything from cleaning the toilets in the men’s room to polishing the chandeliers,” Olson said, who admittedly prefers the chandeliers to the toilets.
But usually they’re small and more of a freshener than anything else.
“After the first year, people said we brought it back to life so we should celebrate it,” said volunteer Judy Eliasberg, who pencils in the Pitch In every year. “This building is an asset to the city and we need to make sure it’s viable.”
And it wasn’t just on the inside of the Audi – the garden was even weeded in the rain.
Over the course of the three days, 73 people from 58 families, ages 11 to 90, volunteered and worked well over 200 hours.
And there’s still more to be done. During the Sept. 9 Day of Caring, the chandeliers will be polished, the stage and backstage floors will get a fresh coat of paint and rugs will be cleaned.
For their efforts, volunteers were treated to things like bagels, danishes and sweet treats in the morning shift and dinner type things at night.
And now everything is ready for the opening gala weekend, Sept. 19-20. So if you go, take a look around. It will probably inspire you to do a little cleaning around your own house.