Steinmetz Hall at Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts opens

The Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts has opened the new Steinmetz Hall theater. The organizers behind the project say the opening of Steinmetz Hall is the culmination of a journey nearly two decades in the making.

Officials and guests from across Central Florida gathered in downtown Orlando and raised glasses of champagne, as they formally opened the Dr. Phillips Center's newest concert hall. 

The center's chairman and chief fundraiser James Pugh, Jr. did the honors. He says it took 18 years to get to this point, but it was well worth it. 

"When you walk in there you'll go 'Wow!' It's incredible," he said.

The center's CEO Katherine Ramsberger rattled off some of Steinmetz Hall's key features. 

"So it has an N-1 rating for acoustics, perfect sound," she said, "it has a multiform structure where a 100-million-pound piece of architecture changes the room to a concert hall, so it can be a flat floor theater-in-the-round, or it can be for banquets."

The theater's opening performance was set for 7:30, Friday evening. It was called Rise & Shine and featured the work of nearly 250 local performers. The total cost of the Dr. Phillips Center has been upwards of $600 million. 

Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer said it was a gift to the city's residents and visitors - and especially its children. 

"There are people who grow up and never have an opportunity to be in a building of this sort and recognize that maybe I can be in a ballet, or be in a philharmonic, or have a career on Broadway."

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