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'All you could see was mold'

Zoe Greszler • Aug 8, 2018 at 2:00 AM

A local children’s theater is seeking help from the community after they unexpectedly lost about $20,000 worth of props and costumes. 

Curtain Call Children’s Theatre has helped local youth learn how to perform on a stage as one of the area’s locally owned and run children's musical theater programs. The theater, which has been around since about 2004, produces full-scale musicals in Norwalk twice a year.

After its last production in May of “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” owner Jill Wheeler packed up the props and costumes into the business storage unit. When she went back to it last month she realized nearly all of her equipment was destroyed. 

“I went in to drop some stuff off at the unit and I knew as soon as I opened the doors,” Wheeler said. “I was like, ‘Oh my goodness.’ The smell alone was so potent. It was so strong. I said, ‘Oh no. That’s mold.’ It was horrible. There was an inch of water over the whole 4,000-square-foot unit. You can’t even imagine how much stuff was in there. Mold was covering everything.

“Over half of my stuff got ruined — absolutely ruined,” she said. “We had to wear masks and gloves. It was absolutely horrendous.”

The community started a GoFundMe page to help offset the high expense and to help keep the theater going. So far the fundraiser raised $325 of the $7,500 goal.

Wheeler said she thinks the rapid change in weather and temperature played a big contributing factor to the condensation building up in the unit. She also said the mold growth started at the bottom of the unit and “crawled up” everything in storage.

“I have a lot of costumes and props, hanging cloths, things made out of canvas — so much,” Wheeler said. “It was so badly molded the forefront of what you saw — the dresses and jackets — all you could see was mold. It covered them.” 

She said before the incident she had eight or nine racks of hanging costumes. Now she’s down to one. Wheeler estimated Curtain Call’s total loss is between $15,000 and $20,000 — something her insurance won’t cover. 

“So much is gone,” she said. “It’s so sad and it’s so disheartening. It’s not just the time, but the heart and individualism that goes into it.”

Daniel Darovich, of Norwalk, whose 6 and 8-year-old daughters participate in the theater, said the news “really upset” his family.

“It’s important for the kids,” Darovich said. “Curtain Call, I think it’s a good program that helps kids learn how to interact with other kids and play. ... My daughter was not a very outgoing person at first, but then she started with Curtain Call and she’s already become more outgoing. She’s only been in four of the shows. I think it’s a positive influence on them.”

Wheeler said she appreciates anything the community can give to help her build the business’ inventory back up.

“That was everything I accumulated and created over 15 years of my life,” she said. “That was 15 years of my life. ... I appreciate how others have stepped up.”

“We must try to save the show,” according to the GoFundMe page. “The show must go on.”

To donate to the cause, visit https://www.gofundme.com/curtain-call-productions.

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