WESTON, Vt. (AP) — Members of a beloved Vermont acting company were sleeping in theater housing when torrential rains and flooding forced them to flee, with water inundating the playhouse’s vast basement of dressing rooms, costumes and props and reaching into the first floor.
The July storms left the large, column-fronted white Greek Revival building with layers of mud and debris, and as volunteers and others dug out of the mess, the Weston Theater Company eventually kept performing — on higher ground. The shortened season came to end last week on a smaller stage on higher ground, and the actors are now figuring out how to make up for some of the losses and rebuild their leased playhouse to be more flood resistant in the tiny riverside town.
The prominent playhouse sits in the center of the 620-resident southern Vermont community of Weston along the West River. The oldest professional theater company in Vermont draws people from around the country, including part-time residents and visitors who want to see actors from the New York City area without traveling to the Big Apple.
When the theater flooded, some actors who were about to arrive for “Singin in the Rain” rehearsals were delayed for days. The basement also flooded during Tropical Storm Irene in 2011. This time around the floodwaters were about 2.5 feet (0.7 meters) higher.
The damage is heartbreaking, especially after the struggle to recover from the pandemic shutting down performances in 2020, said Susanna Gellert, the company’s executive artistic director. The company performed under an outdoor tent in 2021 and didn’t start returning to pre-pandemic numbers until this year, she said.
“The real casualty of it is on our earnings,” she said.
Most of the water was pumped out of the the Playhouse but the damage was
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