Bedford County players find a new home | News, Sports, Jobs
Things are really falling into place for the Bedford County players, at their new home at the former Centerville Methodist Church, which they named Bedford County Playhouse.
Since they purchased the building in June 2020, it’s taken a lot of work to plan and get things up to code, said Jim Dull, former president and current facilities president.
Director Kay Dull said it involved things like adding three new bathrooms, a stage, an HVAC system, a sewage system, updating the electrical grid in the building, the expansion of the parking lot and the addition of lighting to make it safer.
The church bell was preserved and recently used in their first show in the building “Boeing-Boeing”to let people know when the intermission is over.
Jim said area residents and neighbors surrounding the church were very excited when they learned the community theater’s new home would be in Centerville.
“It’s going to get more people down that way, and it’s going to have a positive impact on the community,” he said.
Jim also said residents are grateful that the church, which held so many memories for all generations, is still being put to good use.
“Even people from Centerville volunteer and are still part of the productions,” he said Dull.
Nadine Glass, the theater troupe president, along with Jim and Kay recalled when their original home, the Gardner Memorial Theater in Old Bedford Village, was destroyed in a fire on July 16, 2018.
“I remember walking across the bridge and seeing the flames coming through the top of the roof, so I knew we were in serious trouble,” said Glass.
Glass and Kay said they both fell to their knees and sobbed from all the work they’ve put into acting for 35 years.
Jim’s perspective was a little different because he’s with the Alum Bank fire company, so when he got the call that there was a fire in the theater he responded as a firefighter, Kay said.
“At first I thought it wasn’t that bad, but when they called the surrounding businesses, I started to realize it was pretty bad,” said Jim. “By the time the first company arrived, namely Bedford, it was already going through the roof at the rear of the building.”
At the time, they had just renovated the interior with new insulation, heating, air conditioning, curtains and sound system, all of which were lost in the fire.
“We had developed a 10-year lease with the village, so all that was there was our labor and our workforce,” said Jim.
Glass said they were grateful that so many people helped them clean up.
“We had a wonderful response from the community and the American Red Cross, people were handing out water, sandwiches and food. A lot has happened in four years,” says Kay.
“It’s hard to believe it will be four years” said Glass.
After the fire, Bedford County Player began looking for a new place to continue his work, Glass said.
“During the pandemic, we wanted to keep doing things, so we did ‘Godspell’ at the Silver Lining Drive In at the Bedford County Fairgrounds,” says Kay.
They also held productions at locations such as the Bedford County Courthouse, Moose Lodge, Bedford Brethren Church, and Chestnut Ridge Middle School.
“If we were going to these venues, we would bring everything we need for a production and then take it all apart after the show, so it’s a great adventure,” said Glass.
Over the two-year period, Jim said they had completed feasibility studies with the help of EI Associates of Harrisburg on three other potential facilities.
The Maurices building in downtown Bedford, a property near Fishertown, and the location of the old Twisted Trout outside Bedford were all considered, but would have cost them millions of dollars to renovate.
When they saw the old Centerville Church, they came to see the building and bought it right away.
It was purchased in July 2020, Jim said, and they were worried at the time because of the rising prices of everything.
“We haven’t received the final invoice yet, but it will be between 120,000 and 125,000 dollars with what has been done so far”, said Jim.
Jeff Crist of Gatter and Diehl of Bedford helped the theater troupe create plans because there were none.
“There were no plans for this building because it was built by church members. Jeff helped develop the plans and different parts of the plan so we could get a contractor here,” said Jim.
“They did it at no cost to us, they invested in us.” says Kay.
Although it’s a new building, the theater group itself has been in the community for more than 30 years, and Glass said she doesn’t know where it would be without its support.
“We look forward to seeing the young people in the community, veterans, teenagers and maybe even a few older people come for our productions,” said Glass.
She said they are always on the lookout for new talent.
“When we did this last show, ‘Boeing Boeing’, we had great talent. In the upcoming show, we have people involved who have never played in our plays before arriving from Cumberland. Jim said
Jim said that now that they have a fixed facility that can be accessed year round, they can now start thinking about doing shows later in the year.
“We can do a lot of different things in this building,” said Glass.
Glass said the main space for the new space was finished, but they still needed things like lighting and sound.
“Our roof is going to need fixing. We are installing a new HVAC system as the old one needed a serious repair. We have obtained subsidies which are useful”, says Kay.
Jim said the basement is now the storage area for props, furniture, costumes, and whatever else they need.
“Everything we had in two buildings before is downstairs now,” said Jim.
The next piece is “Joyful Spirit” end of August, and “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” to follow this.
“Nuncrackers” will be the Christmas show.
“It’s ‘Nuncrackers’ so it’s got nuns in it, if you’ve never heard of ‘Nunsense’ it’s a musical,” says Kay.
Glass said the new Bedford County Players’ Home is a work in progress.
“Our children have been involved and our children have been involved”, said Jim.
Glass said he has invested 35 years in acting and helping those involved develop skills such as public speaking, self-awareness and confidence.
She has even seen young people making it their profession.
“We have people who came here almost too shy to go on stage, and now they are performers,” said Jim.
Putting on a play is more than the actors on stage, but also the people who support them behind the scenes, Glass said.
She adds that they are not a closed community and are always looking for new people to help them with even the smallest jobs.
“Our goal is for us to be in the community with them and for them, even though some people think we are a group of volunteers and a small community theater, we put on quality shows,” said Glass.