The Merryall Center for the Arts in New Milford is ready to kick off its 60th season -- hopefully.

Renovations to the historic building on Chapel Road began last autumn, according to co-president Eileen P. Monaghan, "but this winter has not been kind to the proposed work schedule."

As the May 14 season opening approaches, the building still is -- literally -- suspended in mid-air. It was jacked up by a building-moving company and rests on huge I-beams while the old foundation was removed.

"The contractors have assured us it will be settled down on a new, secure foundation by opening day -- and a handicap-accessible rest room will be in place," Mrs. Monaghan said.

Opening day would then bring together two well-known piano talents, with varied backgrounds.

Hank Milligan, noted for his classical and pop repertoire, will join celebrated jazz performer Roger Young, giving the Merryall Center's two pianos a workout.

Performances will continue almost every weekend until Oct. 1, with Saturday performances at 8 p.m. and an Aug. 21 performance at 3 p.m.

In addition to its regular performances, the center will host three lectures and three children's programs.

The regular schedule will include the Ali Ryerson Trio, May 21; the Berkshire Big Band, June 4; the Lorelei Trio, June 11; Ann Martindale and Richard Bush, June 18; Gayle Martin Henry, June 25; the Rev. Vit Fiala and Amy Vinisko, July 9; the Danbury Brass Band, July 23, In Motion July 30; The Bearcats, Aug. 21; Lynn Henderson and Roger Young and Nicole Pasternack, Oct. 1. Children's offerings will include Mister G, June 5; Nancy Tucker, June 12; and A Very Dance Tale, Sept. 18; all at 3 p.m.

Lectures on history, politics and government will be held Sept. 10 with Steven McGrath and Sept. 24 with Norman Adler.

In addition, the center will celebrate its 60th anniversary, with former Gov. M. Jodi Rell as the guest speaker.

"This promises to be an exciting year," Mrs. Monaghan said. "The program is the boldest we've ever had -- and that matches the boldness of the renovations."

While all the renovations will not be complete by opening day, she said, "we expect each week to bring new completed projects -- from a new roof, doors and windows, to air conditioning."

The handicapped-accessible rest room on the main floor "has been one of our major goals," Mrs. Monaghan said. "The old restrooms, in the basement, were neither easily accessible nor inviting."

The construction and renovation is via a state grant Gov. Rell initiated in November.

"We are working with the state to make this happen," Mrs. Monaghan said. "The bond commission approved the money; now we have to meet the state's technical requirements."

Tickets at the door for individual performances are $20 for adults and $10 for students. A season's membership, at $150, includes admission to all 15 musical performances and three lectures. The children's programs are $5 per person, with a $25 maximum per family.

All performances include refreshments and an opportunity to meet the performers.

For more information, call the center at 860-354-7264 or visit