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Holland Theatre work back on track

The Holland Theatre will reopen for Center Stage Productions’ Snow White performance, but it might not be in the grand fashion its dedicated volunteers had hoped for.

The theater closed for ceiling repairs — the much anticipated culmination of the star campaign — but as crews from Durable Restoration got into the work, asbestos was located in some areas of the ceiling.


Seth Campbell of Center Stage Productions uses a reciprocating saw to cut off bolts as Holland Theatre volunteer Dick Harmon pounds down pieces of metal during a workday Saturday at the historic theater. EXAMINER PHOTO | REUBEN MEES

An abatement crew was put to work immediately, and in the process of removing the carcinogen, the company had to get rid of nearly all exposed fabric, including the red covers for the seats and seat backs and all the carpeting in the auditorium.

“Cleaning fabric is next to impossible, so they had to throw it all away,” theater board president Kris Swisher said.

The seats are still in the theater. Saturday, volunteers — including members of Center Stage Productions and the Bellefontaine Body Bearders — began the process of reassembling them.

The Bellefontaine Rotary Club, in honor of Natalie Comer, the group’s president and theater vice president who died unexpectedly in January, will begin working Tuesday and Thursday evenings to continue getting ready for the opening. There is also an Eagle Scout project planned, Mrs. Swisher said.

The ceiling repairs will be complete by the May 3, 4, 10 and 11 shows, but painting still may be in progress.

And if that is the case, the lift will still be needed, which means some of the seats along the aisles will not be back in place. But portable chairs can be brought in to accommodate for the missing seats.

“Snow White — it’s happening,” Mrs. Swisher said.

The unexpected cost of the asbestos removal was covered by postponing the purchase of new ceiling fans until a later date.

But the news has not been entirely bleak.

“They thoroughly cleaned off all the buildings (facades) and they’re much brighter,” she said. “Eighty years of dust is gone.”

And the work, although unanticipated, was done correctly.

“We responded to a situation and we dotted our ‘i’s and crossed our ‘t’s,” Mrs. Swisher said. “Now we are moving forward again.”

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