Theater company Igor to show off renovations

LISBON – On a slate-gray stage painted and sealed only 24 hours before, Stage Left Players mill about, knowing nothing is ever complete until the show begins -and sometimes not even then.

The troupe will begin its 21st season tonight in the newly renovated Trinity Playhouse with the private screening of “Young Frankenstein The Musical.”

The more than $12,000 renovations to the century-old former Presbyterian church have been major and Stage Left founder and resident artistic director Kandy Cleland said planning began two years ago.

It was the success of the kid’s camp over the last couple of years that brought about the need for changes. The camp drew about 50 kids, and it was difficult to find space to accommodate the parents who turned out for the shows, she explained.

The first step was rolling up a wooden wall on the right side of the building and moving columns for additional room. The wall was rolled up into existing space near the ceiling. Some of the building’s original pews dating back to 1860 were moved to make room for the new wing behind the now-rolled up wall, she said.

The change took 40 volunteers and a week’s time and kicked off the rest of the renovations, which began in August and were still not completely finished Wednesday evening.

“In true dramatic form, the fabric for the cushions will arrive tomorrow,” Cleland joked.

The red fabric is a “nod” to the 50-year-old red carpet they removed and replaced with all new carpet from local businessman Jeff Dorrance, she said.

The cushions will be installed by Pastor Kari Lankford of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Leetonia and Pastor Mark Wilds of the New Lisbon Presbyterian Church.

Their help is a “blessing,” she said, adding that to have them installed by the company would take two additional weeks, and cushions are needed for the show that runs at least two hours, including intermission.

At roughly $6,000, the cushions are the most costly of the renovations. New red velvet drapes and a new stage apron ran about $1,000, and the new carpet about $5,000, she said.

Those figures do not include the cost of labor.

The building seats about 150, and the audience will hear live music from the orchestra pit now located in the balcony opposite the stage. A new light bar was also installed there, replacing the former light trees, Cleland said.

The troupe has always featured live music which is a “safety net” for the actors, she explained, because a musician can adjust if an actor messes up or forgets a line and needs to start over or press on to the next line.

Relying on live musicians is an added expense, but Cleland believes the quality makes up for the cost. Stage Left Players is a 501c(3) non-profit organization and has been since its inception 21 years ago. It began offering shows in the former church building in 1998.

She said ticket sales and a subscription drive funded the renovations. Donations given to the troupe outside of ticket sales are tax deductible.

During dress rehearsal Wednesday evening Cleland told the performers not to worry if they don’t have everything they need for their costume tonight-the small items will be available sometime during the season.

The down-to-the-wire adjustments are just part of what makes live theater special, Craig Snay, who plays Dr. Frankenstein, believes.

He has been involved in theater 21 years and said, “It always goes to the last minute, but in a good way.”

A public unveiling of the renovated theater is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Friday, with the show beginning at 7 p.m.

Cleland said the show is to thank-you to those who have supported the troupe financially.