When it was originally built in 1955, the Northwest Classen High School auditorium was a showplace used for school and community, as well as productions enjoyed by the greater metro Oklahoma City area. In the past, this extraordinary 1,400 seat auditorium serviced the northwestern area of Oklahoma City with educational programs, entertainment and business training.
This auditorium certainly filled a need for the Oklahoma City community, yet it had not been utilized to its full potential in over 30 years and the facility had not been updated since it was built. Events were no longer scheduled in this once “state of the art” auditorium due to the lack of attention to repair, renovation and updates of lighting, sound equipment, seats and stage. It was overdue for an upgrade.
The FRIENDS of Northwest Classen High School Foundation was founded in 2006 and had been working with the school, the neighborhood and the district seeing a renewal of spirit, when in 2008 FRIENDS started a campaign called Fund-A-Need that was designated for NWC Auditorium renovation. Funds raised allowed FRIENDS to enhance the renovations in the auditorium being made through MAPS for Kids. MAPS for Kids had budgeted funds for repair, however the funds were not nearly enough to make the necessary improvements that would bring area-wide community and school events back to the stage.
Caretakers of a Grand Old Lady
An Auditorium Board was formed on September 1, 2011 and bylaws were approved by the FRIENDS of Northwest Classen High School Foundation. The FRIENDS Board of Directors and the Auditorium Board are committed alumni and community members that volunteer their time, money and experience to create opportunities for the teachers and students of NWC, as well as the city with the newly renovated auditorium. The Auditorium Board was formed with the following Mission Statement:
The FRIENDS of Northwest Classen Auditorium Board is dedicated to the operation and management of events utilizing the Northwest Classen Auditorium to raise and distribute funds for continued redevelopment of facilities and programs for the benefit of Northwest Classen High School students, as well as restoring one of Oklahoma City’s treasures and providing a performing arts venue for the community
An agreement was signed December 2011 between the Oklahoma City School Board/District which states the FRIENDS of Northwest Classen High School Foundation shall administer the use and profits of the auditorium.
Becoming the Hudson Performance Hall
Then, enter Leslie and Cliff Hudson, both NWC High School alumni, who, as the story goes, met in the high school auditorium, donated $500,000 in early 2012 to the auditorium renovation efforts. In a joint comment, the Hudsons noted, “Northwest Classen holds a special place in our hearts. Not only was Northwest where we met and fell in love, it was also the place where our admiration and appreciation for music, dance and performance grew to new levels.” In honor of the gift, the FRIENDS of Northwest Classen Foundation, in cooperation with the Oklahoma City Public School District’s Board of Education, renamed the auditorium at NWC the Hudson Performance Hall.
Their gift was used to engineer and install a world-class caliber acoustical and multimedia system which included a Yamaha sound system, a top-of-the-line loudspeaker management system by Harman, JBL speakers, a new monitoring system, microphones, stage lighting and spotlighting system. “Cliff and Leslie’s generosity, creativity and devotion to the community, our high school alma mater, public education and the arts are reflected in this thoughtful gift,” said Lynne Hardin, civic leader and NWC graduate who heads the FRIENDS of Northwest Classen Foundation.
September 16, 2012 Renovations were close to completion when the Hudson Performance Hall held a Grand Opening Gala inaugurated by none other than NWC grad, Vince Gill along with The Mojo Men, Bill Maxwell and other NWC grads.
Then, Friday night May 3, 2013 was one of those moments in our lives when the stars seem to align in spite of comets, black holes and solar flares and the Hudson Performance Hall hosted its official opening act, The Piano Guys... This was an evening that the FRIENDS of Northwest Classen High School Foundation had been anticipating for many years.
On October 28, 2014 a 9 1/2 ft. tall bronze figure of Vince Gill, Class of 1975, was unveiled in front of the Hudson Performance Hall by the 20-time Grammy winner himself. Gill is depicted by sculptor Jack Nortz with his 1952 Fender Telecaster guitar. The statue was made by Willis Granite Products of Granite, Oklahoma.
Functioning both as the official school auditorium for Northwest Classen High School and a state of the art venue, the Hudson Performance Hall operates as a 501c3, raising funds to benefit students and creating an endowment for the future of HPH. HPH hosts ticketed events, teen pageants, regional dance competitions, local dance recitals, professional development and corporate meetings.
The intimate, friendly neighborhood setting of the Hudson Performance Hall contributes to its magic. It is warm and inviting, almost feeling like this grand old lady is grateful to everyone for her facelift - changing this tired, worn out ole dame to a bright, young, shining star full of expectation and possibility.
FRIENDS and Friends of FRIENDS of NWC have helped out with numerous upgrades and ongoing maintenance and operation of the new performance hall...
• Upgraded the electrical panels for additional power needed for concert plug-ins.
• Worked with the City of OKC’s Board of Adjustment; changing the outdoor signage from “Auditorium” to
“Hudson Performance Hall.”
• Installed a digital marquee, for both HPH and school events.
• Removed old fencing along May Avenue between 27th and 30th.
• Restored the original wood paneling and doors in the HPH Lobby.
• Added additional stalls in the HPH Lobby Women’s restroom.
• Changed a once used coat-check area into a concession area.
• Replaced the countertops in the ticket booth and concession areas.
• Cut a trough in the auditorium floor for performer’s electrical cables.
• Installed a tiled HPH logo at the entrance.
• Added seating in the HPH lobby.
FRIENDS continues to maintain the NWC grounds and the Auditorium Board is currently working with the City of OKC to resurface and restripe the parking lot and widen entrances from May Avenue. Plans are also in the works for adding iron fencing with brick pillars to set off the campus.
NWC and the Hudson Performance Hall are ongoing reminders of the extraordinary talent here in OKC.
Hudson Performance Hall Auditorium Board
Lynne Hardin, Class of 1964, President
Bill Massad, Class of 1959, Treasurer
Susan Parker, Class of 1968, Secretary
Cliff Hudson, Class of 1973
Cindy Daviee, Class of 1968
Benny Garcia, Class of 1975
Bob Griggs, Class of 1966
Brent Gooden, Class of 1973
Kerry Robertson, Class of 1963
Jim Robinson, Class of 1963