Expansion progresses

Drywall panels seemed to fly through the air Thursday afternoon as construction workers hoisted the pieces via crane to second floor window in the new expansion project at the Webster City Community Theatre.

The work is part of a building project that will add 6,000-square feet to the performing arts center located at the corner of Bank Street and Willson Avenue. The three-story addition which will expand the back stage area and include a workshop/paint shop, green room, changing rooms, makeup area, restrooms and laundry. In addition to costume storage, New space will be constructed for set pieces and props. New theater seats were installed in the auditorium recently and plans also call for off-street parking to the west of the building.

The project was jump-started by a $100,000 bequest from the Helen Johnson Estate which allowed the organization to purchase the adjoining lot and, with the help of Peterson Construction, to demolish the house on that lot. A fund raising campaign was launched in February asking donors to help them reach the goal of $150,000. Thanks to the generosity of more than 350 donors, the goal was surpassed. WCCT broke ground in late August.

Al Yungclas, a WCCT member involved in the project, said Jaycox Construction is the general contractor for the project. Crews of volunteers will help finish much of the work, he said.

The top floor will be devoted to costume storage, Yungclas said. Presently, the costumes are stored in several different rooms around the building. The new arrangement will give the group more space and room to “see what we actually have,” Yungclas said.

On the main stage level, an additional 10 feet was added to the backstage area, and behind that to the west is a new scene shop and paint shop. Currently, construction of set pieces is handled right on the stage.

“We can build sets in here and move them directly on to the stage. We raised the backstage ceiling, that way we can make the centerstage opening taller and wider,” said Yungclas.

The backstage area will also feature a dressing room and just inside the shop are two rest rooms. Laundry facilities and a paint clean-up area are also located in the workshop, Yungclas said.

The lower level will provide a storage area for the organization’s set pieces and props. A door will be cut through the foundation of old exterior wall to connect the storage area with the basement. Currently, WCCT stores lumber under the stage, set pieces and paint in a basement room and small props in the bell tower.

“We wanted a big empty space because we know we can use it,” he said. “We’ve got furniture and doors and walls and no place to put it. Now we have room to spread things out.”

Plans also call for spacious dressing rooms in the lower level, Yungclas said.

WCCT’s latest production, “Sleeping Indoors,” is presently in rehearsals and scheduled to open in February. Yungclas said the construction has seemed to bother the cast of four actors or the rehearsal time.

“They don’t have to go off stage too much,” he said. “After this weekend, we’ll open up the stage entrances for them to work with.”

Yungclas said theater volunteers have put in many hours helping to finish parts of the project. Last weekend, the group installed insulation backstage, and this Saturday, the volunteers will work on drywalling the area.

Yungclas credits Lynn Jaycox for helping design the structure and said he was pleased with the work being done.

“The construction crew is doing a great job and they’re working as fast as they can considering the weather,” Yungclas said.