Theater group staging search for permanent Pasadena home Troupe considers old school, calling it a 'great location'

November 15, 1996|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,SUN STAFF

Imagine, the Pasadena Theatre Company performing in Pasadena.

The 200-member theater group, which stages its shows at Baldwin Hall in Millersville, is looking for a home of its own. The old Pasadena Elementary School might fill the bill.

"It would be a great location," said Sharon Steele, chairwoman of the group's home committee. "It would certainly be something we would be open to."

First, the Board of Education would have to agree to transfer the 2.5-acre lot and the schoolhouse to the county, which has sole authority to sell or lease such property. The transfer idea merits "further investigation," said Joseph H. Foster, president of the school board.

"Is it feasible? I think so," Foster said. "How long will it take to do it? I have no idea."

The troupe performed from 1979 in Pasadena and elsewhere using high schools and hospitals as temporary theaters until it moved to Baldwin Hall in 1985.

Steele said she began to consider the old Pasadena Elementary when she was approached last month by a school official -- whom she declined to identify -- who suggested that the school board might transfer the building to the county, which, in turn, might sell it.

The 8,000-square-foot schoolhouse on Pasadena Road, which was built about 1920, has five classrooms, an administrative office and a large multipurpose room, said Ralph A. Luther, director of facilities management for the school system.

The school, which closed in 1955 when the current Pasadena Elementary School was opened on Spruce Avenue, is being used to store old desks and chairs, Luther said.

For the troupe to use the school, the school board would have to agree to a county plan to consolidate warehouse space before relinquishing the building, and that might take a while, Luther said.

"That's many months into the future," he said. "There's nothing on our plate that suggests that we would surplus [the school] to the county now."

The nonprofit theater group is one of many organizations that reserve time in historic Baldwin Hall, Steele said.

Because other groups use the hall, the troupe has to take down sets and lights immediately after every production, she said.

"When the show is over, we must stay until 2 a.m. and do all that work before we can have a cast party," said Steele, who was the group's president for three years. "It's gruesome."

Also, the building can comfortably seat only 200 people, on metal folding chairs, she said. And there is no elevated seating for those sitting in the back.

The most important reason that the company is looking for a permanent home is that the actors want to do more shows for adults and children and sponsor acting workshops, Steele said.

"We don't feel that our future is at Baldwin Hall because it's so limited in what we can do," she said.

So Steele and other members of the troupe have been searching for space. They have inquired about the former Erol's video store Harundale Mall and space in the proposed Glen Burnie Town Center.

Al Chopey, the theater company's president, said it is unlikely that the group could afford to purchase the old school, but that it would do its best to find a permanent home.

"It's still our goal to have a home of our own someday," he said. "Whether it comes from the Board of Education, a bank or an individual, and as long as we can afford it, we're not picky."

Pub Date: 11/15/96

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