Community Theater Burns Down, Community Celebrates

Image by budi yanto from Pixabay 

The local community theater caught fire during the first act of Hairspray last night, drawing the public’s attention as hundreds of people gathered in the parking lot to watch the building go up in flames for 90 minutes (no intermission).

It was by far the largest audience the theater has ever had.

“I have been a season ticket holder to this theatre company for 30 years, and this is by far the most interesting thing I have seen here,” says Henrik Sussman (62). “The way the flames danced across the walls was much more exciting than the dancing in the opening number. The choreography [from the fire] was just magnificent.”

Local art critic, Lara Rinkle, called the evening, “a not to be missed experience… The hottest show this town will ever see… Finally, something I would pay to watch!”

When firefighters arrived to extinguish the flames and witnessed the crowd so invested in seeing the place go up in smoke, they were reluctant to intervene. 

“It is art, after all,” said Fire Chief Maddox. “It became a matter of public interest over public safety. When we hooked up the hose, people started booing.”

Though the cause of the fire is unknown — and no one cares enough to investigate —  one actor recalls seeing the fire begin in the ladies’ dressing room, which contained 112 cans of aerosol hairspray. The poorly attended show was evacuated before the fire spread to the house. No one was injured in the blaze.

The cast, still in full costume, stood on the street as their beloved, safe space crumbled. With an attitude of “the show must go on,” they attempted to sing the finale on top of the unused firetruck, but the crowd quickly shushed them. The actors left to go get drunk at the bar down the street, like always.

Chief Maddox confirms that this was the largest crowd he has ever seen at a fire. “Usually we get a few concerned citizens, but this was the first time I’ve ever seen so many smiling faces. At one point, someone started selling cotton candy and soda out of their pickup. We gave everyone a big finale with the hoses once we were certain there was nothing left to salvage,” he said. “People applauded. Some even gave us a standing ovation. It felt pretty awesome.”

Now that the theater is gone, the community is rallying together in a fundraising campaign to ensure that no efforts are made to rebuild the sorry excuse for an art venue. 

At the time this article was published, $15,000 has been donated to keep that kind of garbage outside the town limits. Plans for a laser tag arena are underway for the vacant lot. 

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