The Rockaway Theatre Company (RTC) was two weeks away from its production of “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” when Sandy devastated the peninsula.
RTC’s home, the Post Theatre in Fort Tilden, was destroyed, and the troupe has still not been able to get back in to start repairs.
The facility, rehabilitated only 15 years ago, now needs a new roof. The stage may have to be replaced. The entire building also requires a significant amount of mold remediation. Props and sets for the production were washed away.
In short, production, and the company’s entire season, was shut down indefinitely.
Enter Our Lady of Grace in Howard Beach.
Also damaged by flooding, the parish has become a temporary home for the theatre company, and organizers say the show will go on, with a downsized production and later start date.
“We’re losing our minds,” said Susan Jasper, production manager for the Rockaway Theatre Company. “But we’re coming up with interesting, unique ideas for making this work, and hopefully it’s going to work.”
The parish had been trying to revive a theatre group of its own, which disbanded about 10 years ago. When the school’s music teacher spoke with the Rockaway company’s musical director, a match was made and the parish extended an invitation for the company to move its production north to Howard Beach.
That was only two weeks ago, and Jasper says thing have taken off since then as producers face a tight deadline. As they recast for some roles, existing cast members have gotten back to rehearsals with just more than a month before the curtain rises.
Jasper and the rest of the crew now face the task of reducing the show from that of a full-size theater to a comparatively smaller venue, which does not have the needed wing size for a large cast. Props and sets will have to be rebuilt on a smaller scale as well.
Because so many people were displaced by the storm, Jasper said much of the cast had either been preoccupied by rebuilding, or had committed to other projects. Producers will recast new actors for some parts, and hold auditions for Our Lady of Grace students for the large children’s choir attached to the show.
“Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat” will run the first two weekends of March. If the production is a success, she said, the RTC will bring the show to St. Francis de Sales in Rockaway.
Revenue from the production, normally used to help upgrade the Fort Tilden theater, will also go to helping Our Lady of Grace rebuild, Jasper said.
Gateway National Park has yet to tell the RTC when it can begin rebuilding the theater they inherited a decade-and-a-half ago.
Jasper said the little league that plays in Fort Tilden will be allowed back in this spring, and hopes the company will be allowed back in around the same time.
- The Who gifts sound system to Sandy-struck venue
- ‘Brighton Beach Memoirs’ at Rockaway Theatre Company
- Rockaway Theatre Company Presents ‘Bye Bye Birdie’