Portsmouth Music Hall unveils plans for new-look downtown venue

With nightclub atmosphere, newly named The Lounge to replace The Loft space
Music Hall Lounge

The Music Hall Lounge will have a ‘modern, mercantile feel to it,’ says architect Rob Harbeson.

The Music Hall of Portsmouth has unveiled plans for a new concept for its smaller performance venue – the Music Hall Lounge, which will open in mid-July in the former location of The Loft on Congress Street in Portsmouth. Officials said the new venue will have the feel of a nightclub atmosphere, offer bar and food service, and feature a variety of seating options in an open-concept performance space. It will have the same capacity as The Loft, with about 100 seats and will offer the same kind of events and performances, but a larger volume and variety. Ticket prices will remain the same, in the $15 to $40 range, with the majority $25 to $29.

The flexibility of the new space and its state-of-the-art audio and video systems will make it suited for a larger variety of events, including hybrid events both in-person and livestreamed or recorded for later use, and it will be available for rental by businesses and organizations for anything from training sessions to productions, receptions and ceremonies.

“Over the years we have heard from our patrons that they want a dynamic, comfortable space that allows for more social interaction among our guests and between the performing artists and audience.  This renovation will enable us to attract and accommodate emerging artists, local talent, comedians, authors, and more. And it will also greatly improve our rental capability,” said Tina Sawtelle, The Music Hall’s executive director.

The Music Hall is working with interior design firm Studio KL and Market Street Architects on the project.

Market Street principal Rob Harbeson said the big difference people will notice is the versatility of the space.

“The Music Hall Lounge will have a modern, mercantile feel to it with updated lighting and audiovisual equipment, in addition to many warm elements throughout the theater, including wood features, a fireplace, a variety of seating options, and big pops of color to create a real cabaret feel,” he said.

Monte Bohanan, The Music Hall’s director of communications and community engagement, said that after the venue was shuttered at the beginning of the pandemic, an assessment of the space was made with the plan of developing a space with new technology, flexible seating options and aesthetic updates.

After reviewing business models to use the space efficiently, the renovations began to “future-proof” the smaller venue in September 2021, he said.

According to Bohanan, the new Music Hall Lounge “will attract a more diverse audience and allow us to showcase local musicians and talent. I love that guests will have an unobstructed view of the stage area from anywhere in the space.

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