UPDATED! Vermont's Weston Playhouse Flooded By Hurricane; World Premiere of Saint-Ex Will Resume Sept. 2
By Kenneth Jones
The Weston Playhouse, the respected Equity summer stock theatre in Weston, VT, is under five feet of water due to torrential rains from Hurricane Irene.
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.
A note on the Weston Playhouse website early Aug. 29 read, "The Weston Playhouse has sustained damage from 5 feet of water which flooded the ground floor. The Theatre Company is formulating plans to reopen its production of Saint-Ex."
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."
Performances will resume Sept. 2 at 7:30 PM and play to Sept. 10. For re-ticketing and all other ticket-related questions, call the Box Office at (802) 824-5288. The Box Office will re-open as soon as power and service is restored to the town of Weston.
In an earlier email, Giering told Playbill.com that actor Alex Gemignani, who plays the title role in Saint-Ex, told her that the show's costumes were flooded in the theatre's basement, and that the grand piano in the orchestra pit was lost.
The cast is safe, Giering wrote, although Gemignani was safely stranded in his home "because the bridge that connects him to civilization was washed away. The rest of the cast is fine, if stuck in Vermont. All the major roads —including I-91 — are closed or washed out. It's really bad. We're here in Massachusetts and couldn't get back there if we tried right now."
There are photos of the waters rising around the Weston Playhouse, on the company's Facebook page. The theatre apparently sits on the edge of a river. The playhouse was challenged by serious flooding in 1973 and 1976, according to the company's website.
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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