Vt. Theater Nonprofit Bouncing Back From Costly Fire

A suspicious fire that destroyed five businesses also claimed sets and costumes critical to the Stowe Theatre Guild

A Vermont arts organization is moving forward with its upcoming season, despite losses it suffered in a devastating fire.

“Every show we put on—it’s a passion project,” said Dana LaClair, the music director for the Stowe Theatre Guild presentation of “Godspell,” which opens in June.

The theatre guild, currently busy with rehearsals for the show, lost critical rented storage space in a fire last month.

The late-night fire March 30 on South Main Street, which also destroyed five businesses, was treated by Vermont State Police investigators as suspicious—in large part because of its timing. Another, less destructive, fire broke out less than ten minutes earlier at the Stowe Free Library.

“It’s really unfortunate for the town,” LaClair said of the fires.

At least $30,000 in set pieces, costumes, and props were lost to damage from smoke, water, and firefighting foam, said Glenn Brown, the board president of the Stowe Theatre Guild.

Brown said the group did have insurance, but said that will cover much less than actual replacement costs.

Cash donations and a matching grant from the Springer-Miller Family Foundation are helping make up the difference, the non-profit said, as will volunteer hours for painting and sewing, and loans of equipment from other theater groups.

“It’s very heartwarming to know there are so many theater organizations out there that don’t look at us as competition, and they are there to help,” Brown said of the support from other theater groups. “We’ve already sold tickets and we’re not going to stop our season because of this.”

Brown said the Stowe Theatre Guild’s performances have long been a mainstay in the resort town—and will be again this season—thanks to the kind of support that puts the “community” in community theater.

“Godspell” opens June 12 in Stowe.

For ticket information or more information on supporting the nonprofit organization, go to Stowe Theatre website.

The Vermont State Police investigation into that suspicious fire is still ongoing. Last month, investigators asked members of the public to call the Vermont Arson Tip Award Program at 1-800-32-ARSON.

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