Patterson Joint Unified School District officials told Patterson Repertory Theatre representatives Thursday, Feb. 21, that the play’s opening would be delayed after the fire department notified them this week about the need for new fire sprinklers.
Colton Dennis, who heads up Patterson Repertory Theatre with Patterson High School drama teacher Tori Scoles, posted a message on the repertory theater’s Facebook site Thursday, indicating the theater company was actively looking for another venue for its play. The school district is now planning to have the play run at Apricot Valley Elementary School, at Shearwater Drive and Henley Parkway, from Thursday, Feb. 28, through through Saturday, March 2.
Fire Prevention Specialist Carrie Silveira inspected the auditorium earlier this month and found corroded sprinklers as well as corroded pipes and broken valves, Patterson Fire Chief Steve Hall said.
“It’s not uncommon, but when we do find these, they have to be fixed right away,” Hall said.
If the theater company were to use the auditorium, there would need to be a “fire watch” security guard on duty, he said.
That would require someone to look after the building on a 24-hour basis, said Steve Menge, Patterson Joint Unified School District's assistant superintendent of administrative services. The school district is working with the fire marshal to get the matter resolved as soon as possible, Menge said.
"There's nothing unsafe about the building. It's just a system that has lived beyond its means," Menge said.
School officials believe the sprinkler system may be as old as the theater building itself, which was built in 1938.
The sprinkler problems also forced the cancellation of rehearsal Thursday for Patterson Repertory Youth Theatre’s upcoming production of “Story Stew: A Fairy Tale Review,” according to the repertory theater group’s website.
Despite facilities challenges, repertory theater members expressed gratitude on the theater group's Facebook toward the school district for the use of the auditorium for its plays.
“We are very grateful that they see the need for the arts in our community!” the group stated.
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