The show goes on at Lewis Street Playhouse
Sun, 01 Dec 2013 05:06:09 GMT —
Three weeks after a fire destroyed Canton's Standard Machine building and damaged others, Lewis Street in Canton just isn't the same. The pavement is now a reminder of that blaze on November 8th.
It's a night when Stacey Nicholas and Joe Coelho were hundreds of miles away in Texas.
"I got a call from the fire chief and he said 'we're losing the block next to the Playhouse and we're probably going to lose the Playhouse. I was really upset, I still kind of get a little upset thinking about it," Nicholas, manager of the Lewis Street Playhouse said.
"She started crying and it was really upsetting. I was just trying to keep Stacey calm. We were just trying to manage our emotions from a distance," Stacey's husband Joe said.
Both Nicholas and Coelho are both volunteer firefighters, and they knew the outlook wasn't promising.
"I just remember asking him to make sure all of the firefighters are safe and if the building went, the building would go," Nicholas said.
Then, at midnight, Stacey received another call from the Canton Fire Chief.
"He said he was able to save the building," she said.
The Lewis Street Playhouse was spared, but Stacey and Joe wouldn't return home for another 10 days.
"To know that you have to wait and let the ashes fall, it can be really challenging," Nicholas said.
They couldn't see the extent of the damage, but to know how much history could have gone up in flames - the pair was beyond relieved. The Playhouse opened in the late 1800s as an opera house, and a few decades later, burlesque shows took center stage.
But in 1981, the building was turned into a storage facility. It wasn't until almost two decades later, the building was revived to it's current state.
"It's a focal point, it's a highlight and really adds to the town in terms of its character," Coelho said.
"Even today the Playhouse is an important part of the community spirit that makes up Canton," Nicholas added.
A walk through the building will show that the theater has brought plenty from past decades into today. The Playhouse is a not-for-profit entertainment hub where kids can enjoy second-run movies for a dollar, businesses and organizations can rent the space for banquets, and comics can try out their routine - all within the same walls that have called Lewis Street home for over a century.
"When we put down the screen and are showing a kids movie, to remember that a little over 100 years ago this same stage was doing burlesque," Nicholas said.
"Where are you going to get that? Nowhere else has that," Coelho said.
Stacey and Joe returned home 10 days later - and thanks to a cast of volunteers who care just as much, the Playhouse was open for business.
"People would call me and ask if we were open tonight, and even though I was in Texas I would say yes and then I called the student we had working and he told me they were open. I think it surprised a lot of people," Nicholas said.
There will always be the startling thought of what might have been lost. That's why, when the Canton Fire Department holds its year-end banquet at the Playhouse in just a few weeks, Stacey and Joe will be happy to host them - free of charge.
"I was ecstatic," Nicholas said. "Those firefighters did everything they could and this building was saved and really, a community icon was saved because of them."
For more information on the Lewis Street Playhouse and upcoming shows, you can find its page on Facebook here.