The Show Must Go On: The Pumphouse Players' 36th season kicks off after fire
by Marie Nesmith
Jul 14, 2011 | 3338 views | 0 0 comments | 20 20 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Maintenance man Jerry Ballard looks over the damage caused by a fire in an apartment above The Legion Theatre’s lobby Sunday. The cause of the fire still is under investigation. SKIP BUTLER/The Daily Tribune News
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Despite a fire above The Legion Theatre's lobby on Sunday, The Pumphouse Players still is on track to begin its 36th season next week.

"The fire was limited to just the private apartment that is in the second floor above the lobby area," said Mike Harris, director of the season's first offering, "Tradin' Paint." "There was no damage to the theater itself, except for the water damage from the firefighting of the apartment. And, of course, that ran down into the lobby-area ceiling and that will have to be repaired. Now we're going to carry on with the show as if nothing happened because we do have the original side entrance that was used for The Pumphouse Theatre for its first 10 years of operation.

"What is now our lobby area was a dress shop or retail space for many years, and we used the side entrance to go into the theater. We're going to revert back to that side entrance while the ceiling in the lobby is being repaired. The only side effect, as of today, is the residual odor from the fire. We had very little smoke or soot damage. We're airing it out and the restoration service is working with us and the landlord right now to clean up the place. It may take a little while for the ceiling in the lobby to be repaired. It may be a little while before it gets replaced, but right now the show's going to go on."

Harris -- who was in the theater Sunday afternoon -- credits an alert passerby and the Cartersville Fire Department for the fire being extinguished before it could severely damage the Main Street venue.

"I was the only one in that building at that time. The resident of the apartment wasn't at home," Harris said. "So I was putting the finishing touches on our set for 'Tradin' Paint' and was actually straightening up getting ready to leave when I noticed the smoke coming in from the ceiling of the theater itself. At first I thought that it may have been a lamp that overheated, but as soon as I got upstairs the smoke was coming from the apartment area in the front of our building.

"So as I was upstairs I very quickly shut everything off, and before I could even call the fire department, I heard sirens outside. So I opened up the front doors to give the firemen access, and then got out of the building. And they had it under control in just a matter of minutes. So I have to thank whoever called in the smoke. I didn't actually have a chance to. So somebody on Main Street, some passerby, called in the alarm and before I was actually able to get out of the building, firefighters were setting up hoses and ladders and bringing it under control. So that absolutely saved the theater, if not that entire building on that block, because of their fast response."

On July 22, the Catherine Bush comedy "Tradin' Paint" will launch The Pumphouse Players' 2011-2012 season. The nine-member cast includes Michael Butler as Halley Smoot, Bekah Medford as Darla Frye, Tony Bowers as Skeeter Jett, Dana O'Bryan as Lucky Tibbs, Joel Coady as Coty Webb, Zac Schneider as The Boss, Mike Hickam as Flagman, Michael Ryan as Tucker Forbush and Andrew Owens as Pierce Garbarino.

"It's a Southern comedy that is set in the world of stock car racing," Harris said. "But the lead characters are two female roles, one of which is a stock car fan who gets down on her luck. [She is] a young girl who accompanies her sometimes abusive boyfriend to the stock car race, and through the course of the play she comes to identify with a female crew chief who is the head of a successful stock car racing team. And through this play about self discovery the young girl, Darla, comes to be hired by Lucky to work in the auto shop that sponsors the main character's race car.

"So even though the title and the background lends itself to rough-and-tumble macho stock car racing, the story really is about two women who discover the strength in themselves. The crew chief helps Darla discover that she can be her own person. ... It is [a comedy] but it isn't a slapstick played for laughs type of comedy. The comic angle comes from the stereotyped characters and their interaction with each other, but it really is a play about people in and around stock car racing. So they are broad characters and at least in the beginning of the play they seem to be stereotypes but as the play progresses not all stereotypes are what they seem. There's more to everybody."

To be held at The Legion Theatre, 114 W. Main St. in Cartersville, "Tradin' Paint" will be presented at 8 p.m. on July 22, 23, 29 and 30 and 3 p.m. on July 31. Tickets are $12 for general admission and $10 for Pumphouse Players' members and groups of 10 or more.

Along with "Tradin' Paint," The Pumphouse Players' season will feature eight additional productions: "Plaza Suite," "Extremities," "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever," "Seeing Stars in Dixie," "Romeo and Juliet," "It's all in the Timing," "Frankenstein Summer" and "Moon Over Buffalo." Along with plays that were petitioned to The Pumphouse Players by area directors, the lineup was selected based in part from surveys conducted throughout the year, soliciting suggestions from patrons and its members.

"We wanted to this year be a little light because the economy is sort of down and people need some good entertainment," Pumphouse Players President Dave Boggess said. "We do have one strong drama, but most of our shows are pretty light this year and very entertaining. That's the main thing, just to have people come in have a great night of entertainment at the theater."

For more information about this season's offerings or to obtain tickets, visit or call 770-387-2610.