Monday, December 22, 2014

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Show Goes On For Company Whose Theater Was Destroyed By Sandy

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TWC News: Show Goes On For Company Whose Theater Was Destroyed By Sandy
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Despite having its theater destroyed Hurricane Sandy, the Rockaway Theatre Company is determined to have the show go on. NY1's Agnes Chung filed the following report.

Fifteen years ago, a Howard Beach building became home to the Rockaway Theatre Company.

After Hurricane Sandy, Producer Susan Jasper and Artistic Director John Gilleece were left holding damaged seats.

"I only came in two days after the storm, and there was still water settling down under the stage," Gilleece said. "And that just made my heart sink.

The stage has to be replaced, and the dressing room needs major construction. All the props are unsalvageable. Damages exceed $75,000.

Even more devastating was the prospect of having to cancel their production of "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat".

"It's inexplicable how devastating it was," Jasper said. "It's not part of our philosophy to let people who thought they had roles and prepared, and to cancel, just like that. Plus, it was such a depressing feeling for everyone."

Luckily, Our Lady of Grace Church stepped in, despite also being affected by the storm. The church has been holding service in its gym, where the curtain will also rise for the Rockaway Theatre Company's production.

"Part of the challenge of putting the show up here is that I had to rethink a lot of things in terms of staging, in terms of what the set is going to be," said Chazmond Peacock, the production's director. "We even had to recast a significant number of roles."

"It's hectic, that's for sure, and it takes a lot of brains to get this all put together properly," said Catherine Leib, the show's choreographer. "It's really nice to have new life and spirit."

Despite not being in ideal conditions, the group has been working hard nonstop to ensure that everyone has a good time.

The show will run the first two weekends of March, and the proceeds will go to help the Rockaway Theatre Company and Our Lady of Grace Church rebuild.

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