PROVO — A cool front coming through Provo made the walk from the parking lot to the new Covey Center for the Arts pleasant Wednesday. The strains of "Don't Cry for Me Argentina" and "Music of the Night" filled the hall with warm and inviting tones, but it was the plastic-covered seats in the newly opened facility that made patrons downright hot.

Normally the seats appear as an apple-red tapestry-like cushioned seat. They are built for the comfort of the largest posterior, and with plenty of leg room. Crinkly plastic wrap is not their intended upholstery.

Shifting bottoms rubbing against the plastic-wrapped cushions were a nuisance during the concert, but according to Paul Duerden, manager of the Covey Center for the Arts, the lack of plastic would have had patrons seeing red — all over their clothes.

"A faulty red dye lot is the cause," Duerden said. "Everybody involved said this was a bizarre incident — no other facility (the manufacturer knows of) has had the experience of dye coming off the seat."

Duerden said they first found out about the bleeding seats with the cast of "Cinderella" from the Utah Regional Ballet — the first event for the theater.

"As the little girls in their white leotards came on stage (from sitting in the red seats), their backsides were pink," Duerden said.

The Hussey Co., out of New York and China, manufactured the seats, according to Scott Henderson, assistant director for Provo Parks and Recreation, who helped spearhead the building project. He said the fabric portion of the chairs came from the United States.

"They (Hussey) are standing by making these seats right," Henderson said. "Provo city is pushing hard to get it done as soon as possible. We feel we want to be made whole as soon as possible."

The original cost of the 670 seats was approximately $150,000. Henderson indicated the fabric replacement will cost about $25,000, at the manufacturer's expense. The replacement fabric is currently being made. All of the back and seat cushions will then be replaced, which will take approximately two days.

"We are hoping to be ready for the Oct. 2 Manhattan Transfer concert," Henderson said, "if that's possible." Even though the seats are a little sticky and make concertgoers' backs sweat a bit, Henderson said he hasn't heard of anyone being upset about them.

"We haven't had a complaint logged, it is still a usable hall," Henderson said. "Neal McCoy even wrote a song about them, impromptu, during his concert. Not everything goes right. Although it's a problem, we're very fortunate."

Plastic seats won't stop the Covey Center for the Arts from hosting concerts, according to Duerden.

"I don't think it will take us down," he said. "As they say in the theater, we went on with the show."


E-mail: pugmire@desnews.com