PHOTO CALL: Hurricane Flooding and Cleanup Efforts at Vermont's Weston Playhouse; Donations Being Accepted

News   PHOTO CALL: Hurricane Flooding and Cleanup Efforts at Vermont's Weston Playhouse; Donations Being Accepted
 
Vermont's Weston Playhouse has begun the cleanup and recovery process after incurring major damage following flooding from Hurricane Irene on August 28, which left the respected Equity summer stock theatre under five feet of water.

The Aug. 27-28 storm shut down Weston's production of the world-premiere musical Saint-Ex by composer Jenny Giering and librettist Sean Barry. Vermont was hit hard by the storm, which knocked over trees, snuffed out power and engorged local rivers.

By 4 PM Aug. 29, the Weston Playhouse Theatre Company announced that it will present a "re-imagined" version of its Saint-Ex featuring the original cast of Broadway veterans and musicians" starting Sept. 2, at the drained venue. "This full-concert version will embody all the passion and scope of Weston's stage production."

Here is a look at the day-of-hurricane flooding and subsequent cleanup process:

Managing Director Stuart Duke said in a statement to Playbill.com, "We are extraordinarily grateful to our extended family of actors, staff, crew, volunteers, neighbors and donors for their outpouring of support at this difficult time. Thanks to this herculean effort, we're very hopeful that we can re-open our world-premiere musical Saint-Ex by the weekend. Our hearts also go out to the many in our village and state who have been devastated by this disaster." A special Emergency Fund has been set up to assist the company with cleanup and restoration efforts. Contributions can be sent to the theatre's offices at 703 Main Street, Weston, VT 05161, or made online through the company's web site: westonplayhouse.org. Donations should be marked "Emergency."

 

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Here's the history of Weston Playhouse, according to its website: "Vermont's oldest professional theatre is a living testament to a community’s belief in the arts. In 1935, while the Great Depression was raging, Weston-born architect Raymond Austin was putting the finishing touches on a playhouse that one Boston Globe critic would dub 'the most beautiful theatre in New England.' A former church renovated for the town's dramatic club, the Weston Playhouse quickly attracted the attention of director Harlan Grant, who produced the theatre's first summer stock season in 1937, featuring a young actor named Lloyd Bridges.

"The company flourished, giving a start to such talented artists as Emmy award-winning actor Christopher Lloyd and Tony-winning designer John Lee Beatty. Musicals were added to the canon, then a late-night entertainment called The Cellar (later, the Act IV Cabaret) and a restaurant. The extended community's devotion proved strong through three war-torn summers (1943-45), a 1962 fire that destroyed the original Greek Revival building, and floods which challenged its replacement in 1973 and again in 1976.

"Upon the death of Walter Boughton, the theatre's second producer in 50 years, producing directors Malcolm Ewen, Tim Fort and Steve Stettler rededicated the Playhouse to its community, reorganizing it as a non-profit Equity company. The Weston Playhouse Theatre Company is now an award-winning regional theatre nationally known for its multi-stage summer festival and its year-round Outreach and New Works Programs.

"The company recently acquired the 5-acre Walker farmstead in Weston and is in the midst of a major capital campaign to preserve it as a year-round center for play development. In honor of its 75th season, the theatre company has worked with its landlords, the Weston Community Association, to create the Playhouse's first orchestra pit, expanded dressing rooms and actor bathrooms, an updated lobby, greater handicapped accessibility, an air-conditioned restaurant, and a state-of-the-art fire safety system.

"Less than 20 U.S. theatres have been around for 75 years. We celebrate this hallmark with our focus squarely on the future, devoted to producing a deep and broad season of the very best in live theatre. We can do so only because of the continuing dedication of our loyal artists, staff, board, patrons, donors and volunteers. Happy Anniversary to all!"

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