After losing its longtime theater space in downtown Visalia, the Enchanted Playhouse Theater Company (EPTC) is now aiming to build its own performance area. In the meantime, the shows will go on.
The EPTC has had an up-and-down relationship recently with the city, which owns the Main Street Theater where the group of actors has been based for more than two decades.
When the city decided abruptly to sell the property last year, those running the EPTC felt purchasing the theater was out of their reach. Even after the city gave the group extra time to assemble a bid, they were still unable to meet the city’s asking price. While negotiations went on, the EPTC fell behind in its rent and found itself in court, where it agreed to vacate the theater at Main and Garden streets by the end of January.
“We have to be out as of January 31st,” said Shanna Meier, the EPTC’s spokeswoman.
Talent for Fundraising
Despite taking their tenants to court, the city appears to still have a soft spot for the group, granting them an additional 30 days of occupancy in their soon-to-be-former home. The extra time was needed for a two-night performance of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol,” as well as a talent show. Both events are fundraisers to help EPTC pay for construction of a new home.
On December 6 and 7, Kelly Ventura will present his one-man version of Dickens’ classic holiday ghost story. Then, on December 15, local amateur performers will show off their stuff at the Community Talent Showcase. Tickets are $12 for each event, with discounts for seniors and members of the military. They can be purchased at enchantedplayhouse.org.
Looking to Build
Meier estimates the group will need something in the range of seven figures to purchase land and repurpose an existing building into a theater.
“Hopefully, we’ll work out a deal to purchase a piece of land from the city,” she said. “Building a theater in an existing building still takes a lot of money. We’ll have to start from scratch.”
EPTC’s leadership has been following leads, but no definite plan has been formulated.
“There are a few places we’ve been looking at,” Meier said.
The undertaking will be costly no matter how they approach it.
“We are going to be hitting up a few of the bigger corporations in Tulare County to see what they can do,” Meier said. “The amount we need is going to be more than a million dollars, unless someone is willing to donate a huge chunk of land.”
The Show Goes On
In the meantime, the EPTC is still putting on a show. Starting in late February and running into March, the group will present its version of C.S. Lewis’s “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe,” but not downtown.
“That, right now, is planned for the Rotary Theater here in Visalia,” Meier said. “In 1992, when the EP first formed that is where they started.”
While scaling down to a smaller space will be challenging for the actors group, they’re willing to do it to meet their main objective.
“Our goal is to stay in Tulare County, stay in Visalia, and keep children’s theater alive,” Meier said.