Volunteers, businesses give Green Room a fresh look

Mirror photo by Patt Keith This new couch is part of the renovation of The Green Room at the Mishler. The work was done by volunteers.

An all-volunteer group of Altoona Community Theatre members raised money and secured materials from area businesses to improve a non-public space — called The Green Room — deep in the recesses of the Mishler Theatre.

“It’s not unusual for there to be 60 or more people down there getting ready for the start of a show in a very confined space. They really were in need of an overhaul, and ACTer Bill Amrhein — when doing makeup and hair for ‘The Little Mermaid’ in May — made it his mission to see that it happened,” said Steve Helsel, ACT executive director.

During a pause in the backstage chaos, he, Cindy Baney and others realized the green room could use some refreshing.

“We looked around and realized it was dirty and dingy — to the point you wouldn’t want to lean up against the wall. It really needed a good scrub down and cleaning,” Amrhein said. “That’s how it started and then so many people volunteered and ran with it.”

Amrhein credited Cindy Baney with leading the effort and Baney credited Amrhein. It’s symbolic of the kindred, spotlight shunning souls of stage crew staff. “It was all Bill,” Baney said, protesting Amrhein’s assertion she was the lead organizer.

“Bill makes it fun — even the dirtier work,” Baney said. What was really marvelous was that couples engaged their children in the efforts. “It was amazing to see the teenagers working hard and everyone pulling together.”

About 25 volunteers assisted and replastered walls, added new paint, acrylic flooring, bathroom fixtures, stripped and re-varnished doors with new fixtures and more. Materials, specialized-skills and anonymous donations funded the effort

“(Bill) put out the word to our members for help, and in true ACT fashion, a core group of dedicated volunteers joined him for a number of work sessions over the summer to create an area that’s beautiful and functional for everyone who utilizes the Mishler … a true labor of love,” Helsel said.

— Patt Keith