Monday, November 02, 2009

Taproot Stories

For those tracking the Taproot fire, below is an e-mail we got a few days after the fire from actor/friend Bob Gallaher. I share it with you for the hope and sense of community it offers.

Photo above is of the Taproot upper lobby (just to the right of the fireman is a photo of the original Taproot company). Photo below is a view of the restaurants next door as seen from a hole punched in the balcony. The theater needs a remodel -- complete new dry wall, flooring and carpeting, as well as other damage repair.

The building next door (which housed the coffee shop and three restaurants) will need to be completely gutted and rebuilt.

Taproot is looking for another space for their Christmas show; and are hoping to be back in their own space in time for the new season.



Dear Friends and family:

It is a story of disaster and hope.

On Wed I worked as a “celebrity” wine pourer for a posh fund-raising event for Taproot Theatre. We served Washington grown Italian grapes locally bottled and donated by the case at the request of their friend, Brian Canlis (third-generation proprietor of the restaurant). Appetizers by “Upper Crust” caterers were served by Taproot staff, and it was held in the banquet room above the old Venetti’s. I poured a fantastic Sangovese (sp?). A call for support was answered with checkbooks and pledges. A good time was had by all.

Yesterday, I too awoke to the news of the fire. I contacted my friends and learned that the building was out of commission and I went over to see for myself and help load out the show. They had it done by the time I got there, and I took a heart-wrenching tour. Water and foam everywhere from the basement to the balcony. Holes chopped in walls, ceilings chopped or collapsed from water.

The fire began in the “Eleanor Roosevelt Building” adjacent to the East wall of the theatre between there and the beauty school building. Taproot owns the ERB and it housed three restaurants and a coffee house that all paid rent. The fire appears to have started in the coffee shop and the cause is unknown pending further investigation. Fortunately the fire wall prevented any extensive burning to the theatre, and the fire crews worked tirelessly to keep the fire from spreading.

Sue and I had comps to the matinee today. Seattle Children’s Theatre had stepped up and offered their fortuitously vacant venue for two shows today, along with a crew of technicians to help them set it up.

I got the whole run-down from Mark, the sleep-deprived sound/set/designer/builder/actor/genius/magician/director’s husband/and father of two who got the call at 4 AM Friday and who directed and executed the entire the-show-must-go-on response. His wife Karen, the show’s director, got the actors together to completely re-block for a much larger proscenium stage, while Mark patched in their sound equipment and set all the sound cues and effects and had the lights set and patched in to the board by the 2 PM curtain on Saturday. Unbelievable!

The show, a sell-out hit, was a triumph even in such adversity. The theme of the play has to do with seeking and finding beauty and joy and love even when those things seem inaccessible.

Although the short term response was a success, the mid-term outlook is going to be pretty overwhelming when they wake up tomorrow. There will undoubtedly be opportunities for volunteer mucker-outers and mopper-uppers, and I’ll do whatever I can. Nobody knows at this point what all must be done, but it will likely be months in the undertaking.

One interesting side note is that, originally, the plan was to redevelop the burned property into a second stage and rehearsal/class space. That proved to be too ambitious and was shelved indefinitely. They will get an insurance check to rebuild the theatre, as well as a check for the total loss of the Roosevelt Building and the cost of clearing it. Depending on what they owe on it, it could be a financial start to the expansion dream.

Just looking for the silver lining in what is a real disaster.


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