Neither fire nor flooding nor the occasional bloody nose will keep the Stowe Theatre Guild from putting on a show.
In early April, a fire destroyed the Stoware Common building, which displaced half a dozen businesses and destroyed an extensive collection of costumes, sets and props stored there by the Stowe Theatre Guild.
The fire came two months before the theater company is scheduled to raise the curtain on “Godspell,” the first of four productions scheduled for the 2019 season.
“The fire was certainly devastating, but this isn’t the first setback the Stowe Theatre Guild has experienced, and like we have in the past, we’re still going to put on a show,” said Glenn Brown, president of the guild.
The theater company has been challenged by fire before.
In 2000, the guild staged a production of the 1972 musical “Pippin.” During the show, a flash pot malfunctioned, leading to a bigger pyrotechnic display than intended.
“They were supposed to drop something on stage and it was supposed to go ‘poof!’ but the curtain caught fire,” recalled Barb Pfitzenmayer, a longtime member of the guild’s board of directors.
A fast-acting individual used a fire extinguisher to quell the flames, but the fire triggered the overhead sprinkler system, forcing the temporary closure of the town offices located below the theater.
Sometimes, a show can be threatened by sudden injury.
“We’ve had a broken leg or two,” Pfitzenmayer said.
“And the occasional bloody nose,” added Lynn Baumrind, another long-serving member of the guild’s board of directors.
However, with internal efforts and the generosity of others, the guild believes it will hit its mark in June.
“Theater people, for the most part, are incredibly generous,” said board member Carol Loysen.
In the days and weeks after the fire, area theater companies ranging from Stowe High School to the Lamoille County Players have offered to share their props, costumes and sets.
Sharing items is nothing new; Harwood Union High School’s production of “Shrek the Musical” in April employed a dragon’s head borrowed from the Stowe Theatre Guild.
Loysen, who has been sewing costumes for the guild for decades, said she recently received a donation of about 100 costume items, which will be stored in her basement until the guild finds a permanent location.
In addition, the Springer-Miller Family Foundation is matching all donations to the guild, up to a total of $10,000.
Pfitzenmayer said people can show their support for the guild by buying a season ticket.
“I love our season-ticket holders,” Pfitzenmayer said. “They don’t know if they will like all of the shows, but they know they will get something that is quality.”
“Theater, live theater like this, you’re always trying to run into obstacles, and you find a way to make it happen,” Brown said.
In short, the show must go on.