Hurricane Irma caused serious damage to the The Players Centre for Performing Arts stage, and the organization is doing everything it can to rebuild before getting behind on preparations for its next production.
Despite the broken gutter, flooded studio lobby and other water damage wrought by Hurricane Irma, The Players Centre for Performing Arts was still open Tuesday.
The storm largely spared the Players Centre, Managing Director Michelle Bianchi says, and she and her staff were surprised how well it fared when they went inside Monday morning to assess the damage.
However, the organization’s center of operations — the stage — was compromised.
Bianchi says when the gutter flew off in a wind gust, it caused water to rush inside — the most unfortunate being the stage area. Now the community theatre organization is scrambling to fix the stage, which needs to be done ASAP so the set for its next production, "The Will Rogers Follies," can be built.
“It was starting to jeopardize our Broadway show,” Bianchi says.
She took to Facebook, and the response was almost immediate. Several volunteers showed up Tuesday with tools to help Players Centre employees take out the damaged parts of the floor and allow the remaining parts to dry so the new floor can be installed Wednesday.
A special type of flooring — medium density fiberboard, or MDF — is needed for the top of the stage. But the theater was short 50 sheets on Tuesday, and none could be found in Sarasota County. Bianchi says when she called A&M Supply a few minutes before it closed Tuesday, a representative told her the company would have the sheets waiting for her if she could get to its Pinellas Park location by 8 a.m. Wednesday.
Bianchi was quick to say she would be there, worrying that waiting any longer would put set production four or more days behind schedule.
On top of the water damage to the stage, the Players Centre also suffered a compromised AC unit and water damage to the lobby of its new Arnold Simonsen Players Studio, which was scheduled to open on Saturday.
“We called the builder and the property manager, and we got all the water sucked up,” she says.
The studio open house is rescheduled for 6-8 p.m. Sept. 22 in the new building at 1400 Boulevard of the Arts, Suite 200.
The Players Centre doesn’t want to risk getting behind on set designs because the new show opens in two weeks, so the organization decided not to wait for an insurance company to file a claim. Instead, it’s asking for private donations to fund the stage rebuilding.
Internet and phone lines are down at the theater, so call Bianchi at 232-1991 if you want to help, or bring a check to the theater at 838 N. Tamiami Trail.
“I need $10,000 — like now,” Bianchi says.