The fire damage at Glen Echo’s Adventure Theatre MTC doesn’t look like much — no massive charred ruins or caved roof. But during the March 2 fire, hoses doused flames shooting up inside a tower at the historic amusement park, and the water pooled inches deep on the ground floor.
“Literally, the computers were hosed,” managing director Leon Seeman said. “Wet is an understatement.”
Large dehumidifiers are still drying out the space after the fire, which was caused by a wiring issue. (The building was empty; it was about 1 a.m. and the winds were high.) Temporary light fixtures dangle from the ceiling next to ruined older ones. Drywall has been wholly cut away in spots upstairs, where 2,500 costume pieces were damaged, alongside 60 years of files. Downstairs, the drywall has been removed at floor level, where it was soaked by water.
For Internet access, the company is relying on a portable hotspot. The phone system is being routed to a single flip phone in the box office. The kitchen was wiped out; a small microwave and a dorm-size fridge are wedged into the dressing area.
The numbers are still being tallied, but even with the National Park Service (which owns Glen Echo Park) handling some of the repairs, Adventure Theatre’s unexpected costs are expected to run well into six figures. That’s a big hit for a young-audiences troupe with a top ticket price of $19.50 in its small Montgomery County auditorium.
Fortunately, the performance space was not soaked or burned. But Adventure had to cancel nine performances of “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day” right after the fire, then had to cancel an additional three shows during a snow day in mid-March. “Alexander,” which had its final performances Saturday, was on track to set attendance records.
“Now we’re having a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad run,” Seeman said. “It’s been so frustrating, because the performance space was ready to go.”
Adventure has announced a Fill the Gap campaign and hopes to raise $50 each from 1,000 supporters. Several area companies are assisting with the recovery; they include Round House Theatre, Keegan Theater, GALA Hispanic Theater, Imagination Stage and First Draft. Adventure is particularly keen to get its big rehearsal room restored in time for summer camp, which expects 90 kids.
The actors have been troupers about adjusting to circumstances, and the next show, “Judy Moody & Stink: The Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad Treasure Hunt,” will go on starting April 20.
“It’s interesting to run a theater through adversity,” Seeman said. “You find out what you’re made of.”