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Final act coming to a close for curtains

Tamie Meck

The Glenwood Springs High School spring production of “Legend of Robin Hood … Sort of,” a comedy spoof about England’s most famous bandit, opens Friday.

The curtain will open, as it has for countless plays, recitals, dance festivals, concerts and community events held over the past five decades, at 7 p.m.

Ah, if only it could talk, the behind-the-scene and between-the-acts stories the curtain could tell.

“That curtain was hung in 1953,” said Gayla Rowe-Gaddis, director of “Legend of Robin Hood …” A 1984 graduate of GSHS, Rowe-Gaddis has seen the curtain open and close many, many times, and she remembers how nice the curtain used to look.

“It’s hard to tell from the audience,” she said, “but it needs replacing desperately.”

The school isn’t the only group that uses the auditorium. Since its first opening night, the curtain has opened majestically and hung quietly by for public forums, class presentations, meetings, rehearsals, graduation ceremonies, countless plays, concerts, recitals and dance performances, and all of the times in-between. Who hasn’t seen or been a part of what lies behind or in front of that curtain?

Now, the plush, velvety, burgundy drapery that flanks the school’s stage is tired. The “legs,” the black secondary curtains that give the stage depth and division, are no better off.

The seams weaken under the weight of the material and strain under each graceful sway. Curtain fringes drag across the hardwood floor. At the base, the legs have become so torn that a foot or prop could easily be caught up and cause an accident. The rear, stage right curtain is so frayed that it can no longer be safely moved.

Much of the material is held together with patches and heavy stitch work, most of which is concealed between the pleats. The material has become so old and tattered that continued patching and sewing is out of the question.

In short, it’s curtains for the curtains.

A dedicated community group is stepping forward to replace the threadbare cloth. Members of the Defiance Community Players have tended to the ailing curtain since it began to fall apart about five years ago. They repaired its seams and patched its holes, cleaned the dust and dirt from its surface, and tended to its needs as best they could.

Since the small theater group can’t keep up with Band-Aid solutions, it is running a simple letter-writing campaign to raise somewhere between $50,000 and $80,000 in cash and in-kind donations to replace the curtains and all the hardware needed to operate them. They hope to install the new curtains in time for the start of the 2002-03 school year, according to a letter sent to area businesses and individuals.

“If you have not seen them, I can tell you they are torn, worn, and pose a potential safety risk to the students and anyone who uses the facility,” wrote Kathy Barta in the letter. Barta, an actress and local theater personality, is leading the campaign.

For the past several years, states the letter, “volunteers have cleaned, mended and patched the existing curtains. Unfortunately the curtains can no longer be sewn because the fabric is so old.”

According to the letter, the members of the Community Concert Association, whose final performance of the season will be given on May 15, have already contributed to the cause.

“The auditorium is continuously used, not only by the school, but by the entire community,” said GSHS principal Mike Wells. “The taxpayers have gotten their money’s worth out of the facility.”

Unfortunately, replacing the curtain is not in the school’s budget.

The auditorium, constructed in 1952, still has its original, wooden-back seats and other classic features. An average of about one group per week performs in the auditorium throughout the year and takes its toll on the theater.

“Things kind of wear out over time,” said Wells.

Replacing the curtain is a bit more complicated than just purchasing some material, said Wells. The hardware also needs replacing and the way the curtain hangs and other details need to be considered.

A donation jar will be set out at the ticket table for “Legend of Robin Hood …,” which runs Friday and Saturday, May 3 and 4. Watch for donation jars at other community performances and events.

“Our students deserve to be proud of their school as they take classes, meet for assemblies, attend awards ceremonies, and put on performances,” wrote Barta. “Your donation of materials or a monetary donation will put us closer to making the stage a safe place to learn, perform, and be entertained for many years to come.”

Donations can also be sent to: Defiance Community Players Curtain Fund, US Bank, in care of Renee Mason, 802 Grand Ave., Glenwood Springs, CO 81601.

For more information, or to make an in-kind donation of materials or labor, call Kathy Barta at 945-3074.

Tamie Meck is a Post Independent staff writer. Her column runs on Tuesdays.


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