Wednesday, June 20, 2018
Stage

Roof at Freefall Theatre damaged during Hurricane Irma

ST. PETERSBURG — For local theaters, the biggest drama over the weekend was happening well off stage, as Hurricane Irma threatened the Tampa Bay area.

Monday's blustery aftermath left most feeling relieved. Free­fall Theatre emerged the hardest hit, with a section of roof sheeting missing from above its offices at 6099 Central Ave. in St. Petersburg.

Producing artistic director Eric Davis said the theater would have a statement after it had a chance to survey the damage. Exposed tar paper, commonly used as a layer between plywood and a roof's outer covering, was visible from the ground along the building's east side.

Freefall is scheduled to open it season Sept. 30 with White Fang, Jethro Compton's adaptation of the Jack London novel.

The David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts, basically a concrete fortress, fared better.

"No loss of power. No damage to building. No water intrusion," texted Straz Center spokesman Paul Bilyeu.

Jobsite Theater, the resident theater company at the Straz, ran Thursday before the storm but had to cancel weekend performances of The Flick, Annie Baker's Pulitzer-winning play.

"We lost three out of four shows last weekend and are looking at absolutely miserable (sales) this weekend," David Jenkins, the producing artistic director at Jobsite Theater, wrote to the Tampa Bay Times in an email. As of Monday, Jobsite was looking at a total of 72 advance sales over four performances, in a theater that seats 98.

"It's going to be really, really hard to regain people's attention in the next 48 hours," Jenkins said.

The Flick runs through Sept. 24.

Other theaters did not report damage.

"We are having weird electrical hiccups but are otherwise fine," said Karla Hartley, the producing artistic director of Stageworks Theatre, which opens Sept. 22 with The Marvelous Wondrettes.

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