CHARLOTTE, NC (FOX 46 CHARLOTTE) – A beloved community theater is rebuilding from a serious fire just a few days after Christmas last year.
The fire was the latest blow to Theatre Charlotte after COVID shut down productions for months, but the theater’s acting executive director said they’re seeing it as an opportunity, not their curtain call.
December 28th 2020 will always be the day Chris Timmons, Theatre Charlotte’s Acting Executive Director, wondered if they’d taken their final bow.
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“When I turned the corner on Queens road, the sky was just lit up,” he recalled “My first thought was, ‘Is this it? are we done?”
An electrical fire underneath the auditorium floor caused serious damage to the space that the theater has called home since 1941.
Timmons said, “The initial estimate from the fire department was $50,000, which honestly wouldn’t even replace the sound equipment.’
For him and so many others who love the theater, it’s not just about the money, but the more important things like the memories, cast names written on the walls, and props that survived the flames.
“If you talk to anyone in this town that has done theater, they’ve done something in this building,” Timmons explained.
The show must go on though, and throughout the pandemic and the rebuilding process, Timmons said that the community has really rallied behind them.
“We had somebody that did a bake sale right out front and raised a couple thousand dollars selling cookies,” he said.
Despite all the setbacks, Timmons said they’ve chosen to see the silver lining and use this an opportunity to make changes to their space that’ll benefit their audiences.
Construction is expected to begin on the theater’s interior in June and will take anywhere from 8 to 12 months to complete.
Timmons said once they get to reopen, it’ll feel surreal to have audiences back after so much time apart.
He said, “I think what we have learned, and what our audience has learned, is just how valuable live theater is and not to take it for granted.”
The goal for reopening Theatre Charlotte is fall 2022.
The group is doing their final production of the season ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ at three different outdoor venues around Charlotte starting on May 21st.
Visit theatrecharlotte.org for tickets and to donate toward rebuilding costs.