Although Driftwood Players is in the last week of this season’s laugh-out-loud opener (“Seven Keys to Baldpate”) no one was laughing on Monday morning as they surveyed the extensive damage to Wade James Theatre caused by an alder crashing through the roof of the theatre sometime overnight.
The theatre company performs at Wade James Theatre, 950 Main St. It was less than two years ago that Chermak Construction stepped up to cover a significant portion of the costs of re-roofing the theatre, which has been the performance home of the Driftwood Players for more than 40 years. (https://myedmondsnews.com/2014/01/driftwood-players-value-community-partnerships/)
The gift from Chermak Construction covered more than the usual “overlay” of new shingles and included a completely new roof system with new fascia boards, gutters and downspouts, according to Howard Chermak, company president.
Glen Berkwitt, home repair manager for Chermak stated that although it’s fairly easy to slide acoustical ceiling tiles into place, it’s “very unusual for there to be enough of an impact” for tiles to be ripped from a ceiling following an impact reverberation. That would indicate “quite a force!” Berkwitt added that Chermak Construction repairs the damage from quite a few of these types of incidents throughout the year.
My Edmonds News photographer Larry Vogel was the first on the scene Monday morning after receiving a tip from Floretum Garden Club member Donna Seaberg who had noticed the damage on her way to a club meeting in downtown Edmonds. By 9 a.m. Jim Stevens, City of Edmonds Facility Maintenance Manager, joined Vogel and then departed to contact colleagues at the city in order to devise a remediation plan.
Wade James Theatre and the Yost Park grounds surrounding the sixties-era building are owned by the City of Edmonds. A dense stand of mature Alder just east of the Theatre encroaches on the building. Alder wood is relatively brittle, and large trees are subject to snapping off at the base, which is what happened in this case.
Driftwood Players leases the building, according to Amy Gentry, Managing Director of Driftwood Players. Gentry surveyed the damage to the inside of the theatre with Rick L. Wright, Driftwood’s technical director. “It’s not looking good,” she stated as the two looked up to the ceiling tile damage caused by the reverberation of the tree’s impact.
Gentry and Wright surmised that the tree hit the east side of the building sometime after 4:30 p.m. following Sunday’s matinee.
But, what about this Thursday 8 p.m. performance?
It didn’t take long for Gentry and Wright to spring into action to get the theatre back to full operation as soon as possible. Gentry’s first phone call was to Ted Jaquith, Board President, followed by calls to other board members. At the same time Wright was assessing the damage with Edmonds Public Works employee, Larry LaFavre, who observed that the sill plate had been damaged and the impact of the tree had created “a significant divot” in the roof line.
According to Stevens who was meeting with parks maintenance lead, Jesse Curran, when My Edmonds News called requesting a statement, a tree removal contractor will arrive either today or tomorrow to remove the alder from the roof so that city inspectors can assess the damage to the building. Addressing concern that the building be protected before the next rainstorm, Stevens indicated that time was of the essence in scheduling the inspection and taking the first steps toward repair “before water damage” to the theatre’s interior occurs.
My Edmonds News will cover the theatre’s upcoming production schedule – including the status of this Thursday’s performance.
There’s no question that opening the theatre to the earliest performance possible is the theatre company’s objective as well as the intention of the City of Edmonds. Because after all, “The show must go on!”
Just in: late this afternoon Wright contacted My Edmonds News to say that while there was a “little more damage than we first thought, the show will go on as planned.”
By Emily Hill and Larry Vogel