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The Kingdom Trails Association and Lyndonville resident Jim O’Reilly have been instrumental in helping the Vermont Children’s Theater (VCT) repair the barn the organization uses for its programs.

From a spring flood to bouncy floors, VCT experienced a wild ride—literally—with the theater barn in 2019.

Last spring when the VCT volunteer board opened the barn, they discovered that a large amount of water had flooded the costume and prop storage area under the barn. During the spring thaw a large section of Darling Hill Road had been channeled open by the copious snowmelt running off the hill located across the street from the barn. While the gravel and sand collected against the barn, the water made its way in and followed a natural path to the lowest point—ending in the costume and prop storage area.

Board members and other community volunteers spent the whole theater season and beyond sorting through the resulting mess, attempting to salvage what they could. Community helpers did laundry—lots of laundry. Other community members generously donated storage trailers so that sorting could take place outside of the flooded area. Although they accomplished a great deal, more work remains to be done. Salvaging and organizing the collection of costumes and props is a top priority because VCT not only depends on these items for their productions, but often loans them to local schools and other community theater groups as well.

Then in the fall, board members noticed that part of the audience floor seemed to bounce when stepped on. It was discovered that a nonstructural support beam underneath the audience floor needed repair. Knowing the cost of the repair was well outside VCT’s limited budget, Jim O’Reilly, who owns the structure and allows VCT to use the barn, went above and beyond in his help for the program by committing to rectify the situation. Jim has children who participated in VCT productions, and he understood the significance of the barn to the program, as well as the importance of the program to the area youth. He assured the board that the repairs would be made. To reduce the overall cost, volunteer board members stepped up to do the labor-intensive work of removing seats and prying up flooring above the beam.

Another surprise for the organization was when the Kingdom Trails Association donated funds to VCT to cover the entire cost of the barn repair project.

“The Kingdom Trails Association and Vermont Children’s Theater have a long history of working together on Darling Hill,” said VCT President Sarah Ham, “ but this gesture of support went above and beyond.”

What will the 2020 season look like amid the pandemic and the current stay-at-home order? The Vermont Children’s Theater board is not sure, but creativity is the heart of theater! The board of directors is carefully watching the news and will work within government guidelines to ensure the health and safety of the program’s participants, staff, and volunteers. The auditions that were scheduled for the weekend of May 16 and 17, 2020, have been postponed. But the VCT board remains hopeful that it will be able to offer programming this summer.

Like Jim O’Reilly and the Kingdom Trail Association, VCT board members recognize the importance of the Vermont Children’s Theater program in the lives of our local children. They will continue to move forward with optimism for the upcoming season and will share plans for summer programming when that is possible. With any luck, kids will be dancing down the aisles of the barn this summer, with a solid floor beneath them!