Chautauqua set to open new $41.5 million amphitheater

Posted at 6:13 PM, Jun 21, 2017

Crews are putting the final touches on the new $41.5-million dollars amphitheater at Chautauqua Institution.

On Tuesday inspectors gave the amphitheater a temporary certificate of occupancy. The entertainment venue is set to hold its season opening event on Saturday with comedian and former host of "The Tonight Show" Jay Leno. The Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin was suppose to perform, but canceled due to health reasons. 

The venue didn't come without a fight. People fought hard to keep the former amphitheater with decades of rich history.

"We were upset about losing it as well. But we realized the long term longevity of Chautauqua Institution depended heavily on this facility, because this is the heart and soul of our institution," John Shedd the Chautauqua Institution Director of Operations said.

Shedd said the goal was to make the more than 4,000 seat venue look and feel just like the old one. They're reusing windows and even the organ chamber kept from the old facility. The amphitheater is even painted the same color as the old one.

A lot of changes back stage as well. The three story house that is connected to the stage has new dressing rooms with a view of Chautauqua Lake, a kitchen, and multi-purpose space for more events.

Although Jay Leno will be the first performer on the new stage, Jamestown High School seniors will be the first to walk across the stage for their graduation on Thursday, June 22nd.

For a complete list of educational and entertainment events at Chautauqua Institution visit http://chq.org/season