By Lauren Smart
By Jane R. LeBlanc
By Lauren Smart
By Elaine Liner
By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
Just barely more than a year after a fire melted the mismatched seats, equipment, and an inventory of costumes at Grapevine's 15-year-old Runway Theatre, the nonprofit will reopen February 4 with Nunsense -- which is, according to former board member Francine Simpson, "the perfect show, since it doesn't require any sets." That sort of sense of humor has characterized the theater's rebirth from the ashes in a space at 215 N. Dooley Street, adjacent to the original Runway. At first, the community theater company's board expected to be up and running by May 1999, but that didn't happen. Board member Judy Blalock says it wasn't for lack of trying or lack of community support. "The biggest problem we had was trying to get the city to approve the plans," she says. Bureaucratic red tape kept Runway on hold until September.
But Blalock and her husband, Bob, who just finished a term as Runway's president, aren't complaining. When the insurance check for $10,500 didn't come close to covering the $80,000 they needed to rebuild, Judy Blalock says local organizations, such as the Rotary Club, area restaurants, and even the company's landlord, Jeff Veenker of Northwest Crossing Venture, pitched in. "Jeff gave us $25,000," she says, "and let us work in the new space without charging us rent."
The Greater Lewisville Community Theater honored Runway's season-ticket holders at its performances and held a benefit performance, and Blalock says she and her fellow board and company members have a renewed faith in human nature. "Runway's organization is made up of regular people from the Grapevine community who sell real estate, take care of kids, and run businesses by day, and by night, produce, direct, and act in plays and musicals," she says.
Runway had hit its stride in the fall of 1998 just before the December 27 fire, playing to sold-out audiences with such fare as Annie Get Your Gun and The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas. Blalock says that after Nunsense, the company will produce Moon Over Buffalo beginning March 30. Then Runway will close for the summer and finish phase two of its remodeling, Blalock says. "We're planning to put in stadium seating and theater chairs," she says. The troupe will return in August with a season-opening "blockbuster" musical, which has yet to be determined. "We always have standing-room-only for the big musicals," she says. Guess it just wouldn't be community theater without the blockbuster musical. For ticket information, call (817) 488-4842.
ó Annabelle Massey Helber
E-mail arts news and heartwarming sagas of renewal and rebirth to Blink at firstname.lastname@example.org.