When we moved to town a decade ago I told my then young children that New Braunfels was named for the big brown waterfall in town. Okay, so I lied about a lot of stuff when they were little. Who thought they would remember? To this day I get ribbed, frequently. "Hey, Ma, where is the waterfall? You know, the really big one?" It doesn't matter that 'Braunfels' translates as 'brown rock' and has nothing to do with the local typography. I've been looking for a dang waterfall ever since.

And I think I have finally found one. Well, I will in October when The Brauntex Performing Arts Theatre reveals the first phase of its newest renovation project funded in part by the $250,000 gift by the New Braunfels 4B Board.

"We didn't dream we would get what we asked for," says Brauntex Artistic Director, Janet Allen. It is no small feat for the nonprofit 501(c)3 staff and board to quickly raise the additional $350,000 to complete the project as proposed and work the construction into their existing schedule. Without disrupting the Brauntex season programs and community programs that are currently on the calendar the theatre will go dark from the beginning of July until October. Phase Two will continue in the summer of 2012.

Because of big dreams, renovations have been pretty continuous since The Brauntex Performing Arts Theatre Association purchased the old movie theater in October 1998. No single person owns the theatre now. "Many devout people donate their time, energy and money to make this theatre what it is today," Allen notes. Constructed in 1941, more than a million dollars have been spent on capital improvements in the last 11 years. In that time the Brauntex has achieved designation as a Historical Landmark and listed in the National Registry of Historic Places. The finishing touches to this city's jewel are what the 2011/12 project is all about.

This summer will concentrate on the interior. New seats are coming in- fancy ones that don't squeak and shouldn't swallow up small children. Jason Irle, the Brauntex's new Executive Director points out that, "Attention is being given to maintaining the original 1940's styling. I am excited about the detail in these seats." The lush red seating, at an expanded total of 605, will be perched on a newly raked floor that will be more streamline and safer than the existing ADA requirements.


All these comfortable modifications will only enhance the building's focal point: the stage. The deck will be raised and bow out into the theatre with permanent sweeping stairs to the left for more graceful entrances. With a grand new proscenium creating a curvy, elegant picture frame for performances one word comes to mind. Sexy. She will be seductive and inviting, begging the audience for more. The cherry on top? Wait for it...a dramatic Austrian style, mechanical WATERFALL curtain!

Next year's plans are just as exciting, but more so for the performers. While trailers certainly have a purpose they cannot be considered luxurious accommodations for visiting artists. "Dressing Room" has so much more panache. The new ones attached to the back of the theatre will have plenty of space to pamper touring featured entertainers as well as contain the throngs of children in community theatre events.

Even though Irle has only been in New Braunfels a few months he is a good match for the Brauntex. He is a dreamer, too. "These renovations will help us expand our audience beyond our horizons. Our event possibilities are limitless." Heck, they are bringing a giant waterfall to downtown. Can't wait to get tickets in October and point it out to a few kids I know.

*Proscenium: That's Latin, baby. It means, "In front of the scenery." Try to use it in a sentence today and impress your friends.

brauntex-theatre  290 W. San Antonio St.
New Braunfels, TX 78130