Business owner donates facility to kids' theater company

A massive fire nearly took down two major theater productions put on by Valley kids.
Monday, June 02, 2014
A massive fire nearly took down two major theater productions put on by Valley kids.

The Children's Musical Theaterworks is just about two months away from opening night at the Veteran's Memorial Theater in Downtown Fresno. But because of a fire at their storage facility last month they are now a month behind on their elaborate set building.

Visually it's not much, but physically a warehouse at GW School Supply will change everything for Children's Musical Theaterworks. The theater company is known for extravagant shows with intricate, decorative sets.

A massive fire at Derrel's Storage in East Central Fresno last month threatened all of the work for CMT's upcoming shows.

"There was a time when we were panicked we thought we lost everything," said K.C. Rutiaga whose 8-year-old daughter participates in CMT.

Rutiaga says CMT is fortunate its items in storage weren't burned in the fire, but the facility now has no power, which means no set building.

"It was very stressful because we're a month behind and our sets are quite extravagant," Rutiaga said. "They're very professionally done and they do take a lot of time, mostly through the work of volunteers. So it was concerning that we didn't have anything started yet."

Some of the students know already that their work is well behind schedule. But now they're finding out the good news.

"We knew we had height for it, and it's 3,200 square feet and I have another section over here that's 3,200, if they need it," said GW School Supply owner Judy Miles. "So it gave us plenty of space for them to store stuff and move stuff."

Miles says she and her husband saw CMT's recent plea for help on Action News and then remembered a good reason for the donation.

"My daughter, one year at the woman's conference, won tickets to their productions and so we thought it was another way to give back because they were generous enough to give tickets to us, too," Miles said.

"Our hope is that we can get in there, hopefully tomorrow or the next day, and get started with building the sets," Rutiaga said.

CMT is a non-profit, and its performers are between 6 and 18 years old. The kids start their rehearsals next week. And if their sets and costumes are complete in time they will perform Willy Wonka here starting on July 18.

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