A generous donation will give a UNL theater a major facelift - News, Weather and Sports for Lincoln, NE; KLKNTV.com

A generous donation will give a UNL theater a major facelift

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By: Kayla Bremer

The Johnny Carson Theater hosts more than 100 events every year and now those who attend and perform there will notice big time improvements after it's completed next year.

One of Nebraska's favorite sons, the late Johnny Carson.  His foundation is providing some exciting news for UNL.  The Johnny Carson Theater will be renovated with a nearly $600,000 donation.

The plan is to create a new entrance, double the size of the lobby and install a new high–grade floor inside the theater.

"This renovation project offers highly desirable space that will only continue to enhance the Lied Center as a performing arts venue and space for students to perfect their craft," UNL Chancellor Harvey Perlman said.

The renovation will begin in 2014 and be completed in time for the Lied Center's 25th anniversary.

Johnny Carson grew up in Norfolk and graduated from UNL.

"This update will not only improve the aesthetics of the building, but will also help honor Johnny Carson in a more significant way," William Stephan, Executive Director of the Lied Center for Performing Arts said.

The theater seats up to 250 people and hosts more than 100 events annually.

It was named after the former "Tonight Show" host in recognition of the gift he provided toward construction of the Lied Center in 1990.

Carson donated millions of dollars to the university over the last 4 decades including $5 million from his estate after his death in 2005.

Now, another gift from his foundation will improve the experience for students and theater goers statewide.

"Also it will importantly give us another opportunity to pay tribute to Johnny Carson and celebrate his generous contributions and his lasting legacy to this university," Perlman said.

The renovation is expected to begin in July of next year.  During the construction, students will study and practice art and dance at a temporary location.

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