Visalia acting company needs new home after city opts to sell theater

VISALIA, Calif. (KFSN) -- Before saying goodbye to the Main Street Theatre last weekend, actors of The Enchanted Playhouse Theater Company took one more trip to Neverland.

Peter Pan was the company's final play of the 2017/2018 season, and Saturday's show was the last one performed at the theatre.

Board president Debbie Hardin has known this was a possibility for months, but it was still disappointing. "Our hearts are here. This is our home. The students and adult actors that finished Peter Pan on Saturday, we have pictures of them sobbing on stage because many of them have acted since the age of four."

The non-profit theater company puts on four plays every year, hosting thousands of students from around the Central Valley on class field trips. They also offer student acting workshops during the summer.

The company was formed in 1992 and has called the theatre home since 1997. In recent years, they leased the theatre from the city of Visalia, which owns it, and has decided to sell it.

Councilmember Steve Nelsen can't say who the developer is, but can reveal that it will be a retail establishment.

"In my role as executive director for downtown, that plays very well into downtown," Nelsen said. "It brings more people downtown, and it brings dollars spent downtown. So I think overall it was a good move by the (city) council."

Nelsen says the building will require some significant improvements, so it will be some time before anything new opens. He adds the developer is required to preserve the theatre's exterior appearance.

Meanwhile, Hardin says The Enchanted Playhouse Theater Company is still in business, with a new season of shows starting in October.

They're not sure where they'll perform, but know they'll need the support of the community to continue.

They're asking for donations, sponsorships, and attendance at their plays.

"If the community is willing to help us fundraise and support our efforts, then we will have a different spot to go that we can build up that home-like feeling again," Hardin said.

To help support the company, visit their Facebook page.
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