Sometime during the evening of Tuesday, February 12 the basement of the Springer Opera House began rapidly flooding with water. The next morning, Springer staff reported for work, as usual, to find the building had no power. Managing Director, Danielle Varner, began the trek down to the basement to check the main breaker via the stairs off the 10th Avenue sidewalk. Upon arriving at the top of the stairs, she discovered the basement flooded with approximately 5 feet of water. Frantic staff members began checking the extent of the flooding under the stage and found about 45,000 square feet of the Springer basement under water.
It took most of two days to pump the water out of the basement and another several days to fully asses the damage. Once the water was removed, valuable theatrical lighting equipment, HVAC, musical instruments, and props, among other electrical components, were found damaged.
Since the flood, staff and contractors have worked tirelessly to repair damage and replace equipment. As a producing theatre, the Springer runs a tight schedule. Between shows, classes, rehearsals, rentals, and pre-production work, the Springer main stage is in use almost every day of the year. Not having access to the stage could cost the theatre hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost revenue. Producing Artistic Director, Paul Pierce vowed that the next Springer production, Evita, scheduled to open March 8 would go on.
With no main power running to the building, large generators have been set up on site to power McClure Theatre and the Springer scene and costume shops. The Springer’s box office and business offices have relocated into the Springer’s Education Offices. The generators have allowed staff to continue work on pre-production of Evita and the Springer Children’s Theatre production of 101 Dalmatians, which opens a three weekend run February 22 – March 10.
In order to keep the Springer’s season on schedule, the production of Evita will move to Columbus State University’s Riverside Theatre located at 6 West 10th Street at CSU’s downtown campus. Moving the production to Riverside Theatre will allow contractors to continue work on repairing the damage to the building due to flooding, as well as replacing any equipment that was damaged. Some of the work will take months to complete. Relocating the show will allow the remainder of the Springer’s production schedule and slated rentals to take place.
While the flooding of the Springer has been a challenge for the already busy staff, the ever-positive Managing Director, Danielle Varner sees the silver lining. “With the partnership of CSU’s Theatre Department and the Springer Opera House, we can share with the community this collaboration that has been growing over the past several years as the Georgia Repertory Theatre. We are excited to work more closely with CSU’s Theatre Department.
The Springer Box Office staff will be contacting all patrons who have purchased tickets to Evita informing them of the venue change and re-issuing tickets. There will be no changes to the performance schedule. Evita opens March 8 – 23rd. Tickets can be purchased in person at the Springer Opera House Box Office, which has been temporarily located inside the Springer Education Office at 1017 2nd Avenue, by phone at 706-327-3688 or online at springeroperahouse.org.