Heights Youth Theatre seeks new location
As a few remaining volunteers and staff prepared to bring the twelfth truckload of Heights Youth Theatre (HYT) props, costumes and set pieces to a temporary home, a lightbulb along the back wall of the stage cast dramatic shadows across a barricade of chairs and wooden fragments of castle doors.
Calvin Knight, HYT's technical director, oversaw those carrying items as they loaded them in the back of a full-sized U-Haul. Stage right, a giant metal letter "E" and multiple guitar cases rested on a plastic bin full of glitter-covered hula hoops.
The group is looking for a new stage to perform its approximately four shows a year. They have been performing at the Frank L. Wiley Middle School for the past 60 years, but, this fall, because of the CH-UH City School District's renovation plans, high school students will have classes at Wiley and use its theater.
So the building blocks used to create decades of shows have been moved to a 65-by-65-foot shop at 3620 Perkins Ave. in Cleveland. HYT's next show, Disney’s “The Little Mermaid Jr.,” will take the stage at Monticello Middle School. Beyond that, the future is uncertain.
Pam Fine, HYT executive director, said she and the board have anticipated the move. “Three and a half years ago one of our goals was to form a facilities task force because we knew there were imminent changes,” she said. A year and a half ago, with the district’s decision to close Wiley, HYT and the school district began to discuss the future.
“The district wants to help us as much as they can," said Fine, "but they have thousands of students that have to take priority over what we do."
Fine said options for the future appear to be: a new auditorium at Heights High, back to the Wiley space, staying at Monticello, alternating between the two, or some other solutions.
"You can put shows on anywhere," she said. “And yes, it’s great to have a great theater space, but really what creates the magic are the people who are designing your sets, lighting, the actors, crew. So you can be in a garage and put on a great show.”
For more information about HYT and to donate to the program, visit www.heightsyouththeatre.org.
Devon Turchan is a local actor whose many friends have performed with Heights Youth Theatre.