After fire, theater group looks to rebuild

Bedford County Players trying to raise $2M

From Mirror staff reports

BEDFORD — Days after a fire destroyed the Old Bedford Village theater, the local performance group is collaborating with members in and outside the community to figure out its next steps.

Flames damaged the wooden structure of the Gardner Mem­orial Theater on Monday afternoon. The cause of the fire is still unknown, Fire Marshal Scott Swasing said.

The Bedford County Players have performed in the theater since 1983. The group is trying to raise $2 million to rebuild the theater.

Jim Dull, the group’s president, estimates that rebuilding the structure alone would cost $2.7 million, not including the cost of seating and technology needed for shows. He estimates sound and lighting will cost at least $70,000.

Dull said the group lost about $55,000 in assets in the fire, adding that its insurance will not cover many of the damages.

Shane Lynn, Bedford County Players director, said the group has received support from schools, churches, another community theater and businesses to help recover what was lost.

The group’s “Arsenic and Old Lace” show has been delayed to the first or second week in Sep­tember and will be held at the Old Bedford Village Visitor’s Center. The children’s show, “Wizard of Oz,” has been postponed until next year.

The Christmas show, “It’s a Wonderful Life,” is scheduled for December 7-9 and 14-16, but the group is still searching for a new venue.

Both Bedford Senior High School and Chestnut Ridge High School have offered the group spaces to perform. A couple of event centers and a church in Centerville also threw in offers.

The group has received calls from professional and community theaters offering equipment and costume donations, Dull said.

“The outpouring from the community and even outside of Bedford County has been tremendous,” Dull said. “At this point, we still don’t know what we’re going to need because we are just planning to finish out this year and do what we have to do to get our community theater programs operational this year and then planning what we’re going to do next year.”

The ideal scenario would be to rebuild the Gardner Memorial Theater and move back in, Dull said. The group still needs to meet with Old Bedford Village to discuss future plans.

Lynn said the group does not yet have solid plans for the theater, commenting on the “long process” of recovery efforts.

The Bedford County Play­ers set up a GoFundMe page and also is accepting donations mailed to: P.O. Box 399, Bedford, PA 15522.