GRAND LEDGE, Mich. — Thursday was supposed to be the premiere of the first play of the season at Ledge’s Playhouse in Grand Ledge, but a recent inspection forced the theater to close.
“It was very much a surprise to us,” said Joseph Dickson, the executive director of Over the Ledge Theatre Company who has been leasing Ledge’s Playhouse. “We were building our set for the show, so we’d been in the building for a while this summer already.”
Dickson said the city of Grand Ledge, who owns the building and maintains the property, came in to turn on the plumbing.
"After they'd been working for a couple of days, they told us that they had some concerns about the building. And then a couple days later, we had heard that there was a building inspection and that it had been found not safe to occupy currently,” he said.
On May 19, Grand Ledge Building Official Al Hoard conducted an inspection and reported to City Manager Adam Smith that “based on the conditions observed, and the lack of recorded inspections regarding the structural alterations or current use, this building is determined to be unsafe to occupy.”
Hoard said evaluations by an engineer and an architect along with repairs based on their recommendations would be needed before occupancy will be granted.
Over the Ledge Theatre Company has been using the building for more than 10 years and Dickson feels very much connected to Grand Ledge.
“I personally have been working in the building for about 20 years now under the previous theatre company, and then when they went dark, I founded Over the Ledge, mostly because I just couldn't stand the thought of that building sitting empty,” Dickson said.
Shutting it down for now was a shock, but he is glad that they found a solution for the summer. The plays that were planned for the summer can be housed at the Riverwalk Theatre in downtown Lansing.
The first performance will be ‘Songs about Stuff’, which will premiere on July 7 and will run until July 17.
“It’s a fun little 90-minute musical, featuring the music of Wally Pleasant,” Dickson said. “He's a local folk writer lives in Charlotte.”
The show was conceived by Michael Lluberes.
The second play we can see this season is “Realistic Joneses,” which will run from July 28 to July 31. “It’s a funny drama,” Dickson said. “It deals with concepts of aging and illness and particularly illness that affects communication, so cognitive illness.” The play was written by Will Eno.
Dickson stays hopeful and is ready to work with the city of Grand Ledge on a solution for the Ledge’s Playhouse.
“I hope that the city of Grand Ledge is able to recognize the stork nature of that building and, work to make it continue to produce theater,” Dickson said. “Over the Ledge is ready and willing to be a partner with the city of Grand Ledge to work to make that happen. So, we're anxious for next steps and hopeful for the future.”
Dickson said he hopes that Grand Ledge residents will still come out to watch the plays at the Riverwalk Theatre in Lansing. He said the best way to support Over the Ledge Theatre Company right now is to follow them on Facebook and to join the website’s mailing list. That’s how he will inform people about the next steps and about what’s needed to keep the Ledge’s Playhouse open.
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