HARLINGEN — The show must go on, even if it has to be rescheduled.
The Harlingen Community Theatre had looked forward to its presentation of “Noises Off”, a comedy that would have closed the season. However, the COVID-19 pandemic ended the season prematurely, and now the theater needs the community’s help.
Like everyone else, HCT has bills to pay, and without ticket sales that’s a little hard right now, says Kathy Eunice, production director and chairperson of the theater’s board of directors.
“ Being closed indefinitely until restrictions are lifted means that we do not have a consistent source of income from ticket sales, program advertising, sponsorships and building rentals,” Eunice said. “Nevertheless we still have financial responsibilities, all of which are essential to maintaining our building over the next several months while we wait to reopen.”
Generations of thespians have demonstrated their talent at the popular venue; its closed doors are emblematic of the shadow hanging over the city with the restrictions. Beth Cantu has spent many hours at the theater both as a spectator and actress and now director.
“ The theater has always been a place of comfort and happiness for myself and many others,” Cantu said. “It’s a place where we’re surrounded by family and friends and where we can be ourselves. Without that, many of us have no social or creative outlet.”
The theater has provided that outlet for 45 years; theater-goers have supported the non-profit organization long before it even had a building at 1209 Fair Park Blvd.
“ They supported us even when we were vagabonds performing at the old Memorial Middle School,” Eunice said. “We performed at the municipal auditorium and different RV parks around the Valley.”
The facility has provided an opportunity for many with aspirations toward professional acting who couldn’t pursue those dreams due to life circumstances.
“ We have some very talented people here in the Valley,” Eunice said. “We have people coming to the shows and they say, ‘Where did you hire them?’ We don’t hire anybody. These people live here.”
This isn’t the first time the theater has braved rough circumstances. Eunice said that in 2008 Hurricane Dolly inflicted such damage on the building it had to close for several months.
“ We have not needed to close our doors for an unforeseeable period of time since we closed and went dark for more than a year for building repairs after significant damages during Hurricane Dolly,” she said. “This is only the second time we’ve needed to completely stop all of our scheduled rehearsals and productions on stage for an undetermined period of time.”
So, HCT needs help staying afloat until it can open for business. The board of directors is issuing a call for donations.
“ We need to ask you, our patrons, HCT family of volunteers and even some of you we have never had the pleasure of meeting to help us navigate through the next several months,” she said. “We know many of you have your own personal challenges at this difficult time. We would not ask if we could see any other way to sustain our building during this time.”
And it’s actually quite simple. If everyone just donates the cost of one admission, that will make all the difference in the world. Eunice asks that anyone who has ever attended a performance, and all who like the HCT Facebook and Instagram pages, to make that single contribution to keep the theater alive.
Donations can be made on the donation button of the Facebook page or by check to the theater’s physical address.
Eunice said the theater plans to present “Noises Off” next season, probably in 2021.