LEWISBURG, W. VA.: Local theatres may exist to serve their communities, but this week the Greenbrier Valley Theatre (GVT) has seen their community serving them. After statewide flooding filled their basement with more than five feet of water, the theatre’s staff, actors, and extended community are coming together to try and save as much of the costume stock as possible.
“People have been coming faster than we can fill laundry bags,” said costume designer Sherry Harper-McCombs, a guest artist currently working on GVT’s next show, Cinderellish. Community members helped to move all of the costumes out of the basement costume shop and are now stopping by the theatre to pick up bags of clothes to launder. “Even though lots of people had flooding in their own homes, they’re going out of their way to help us,” noted Harper-McCombs.
Last Sunday, the cast of On Golden Pond came in on their day off and spent 12 hours helping save costumes, working alongside both staff and community volunteers. “We had past cast members and musicians stop by,” added publicity director Valerie Pritt. “A local restaurant donated food…It was truly remarkable that so many people came out to help.”
In addition to the local community, other theatres in the area have reached out to offer help as well. Pritt says that Marshall University and Dickinson College have both contacted GVT, offering to loan the theatre costumes for their next production.
“We always thank the community because we couldn’t produce theatre without them,” said Pritt. In the wake of the flood, that reliance has taken on a more literal meaning. “We as a staff are so grateful for them,” Pritt continues. “They make the Greenbrier Valley our home.”
By all indications, the theatre’s onstage life remains solidly intact. Despite the flooding, On Golden Pond only missed one performance—on Friday evening, when the entire county lost power. “The community has rallied around us,” said Pritt. “It’s incredible.”
The theatre has created a Facebook event for aid in flood recovery, and their donation page now specifies laundry detergent and a replacement sewing machine among the items that donations will go toward. The theatre plans to stage the remainder of their season as planned.