Southwest Florida theaters impacted by Hurricane Ian

Southwest Florida theaters impacted by Hurricane Ian

The impact of hurricane Ian hurt Southwest Florida’s local performing arts industry.

There may be some damage on the outside, but inside The Laboratory Theater, the stage is still standing strong, despite Ian and being nearly 100 years old.

The Lab’s Artistic Director, Annette Trossbach, is heartbroken over the loss they did have outside of that building. “Two buildings in the back, one is our education building where we do all our kids’ camp and sadly that is a complete loss and so is our props and costume building.” The ceiling and walls are caving in and conditions worsen by the day.

Just a few blocks away in the heart of Downtown Fort Myers, a similar tragedy for the Florida Repertory Theatre.

Days ago, the entire area was a muddy mess from the storm surge. Crews have been working non-stop to get things cleared out to get one step closer to reopening.

Greg Longenhagen is the Rep’s Artistic Director but that’s not how he got started at the theatre.

“I’ve been with the theater since it opened in 1998, working the first 15 years as an actor, so I’ve spent a lot of time backstage here and it is still shocking to look and see.”

Despite Hurricane Ian destroying much of our Florida theaters, they’re still able to perform because the show must go on.

“We had a wonderful offer from the Alliance for the Arts, they said ‘yes you can use our space so we are going to be performing there till the 29th’.”

Since the stage at the lab is still standing, Trossbach says, they have extended The Play That Goes Wrong. “We wanted to give something back to the community just to raise spirits and we know people are dealing with some very serious loss.”

People are coming to the theater and laughing for the first time in two weeks.

Trossbach said, “the overwhelming resounding comment that I am hearing from person after person is ‘oh my gosh I didn’t realize my jaw was clenched for the last 11 or 12 days’, ‘I didn’t realize how stern I had been’.” It’s a community within a community coming together.

“I guess they say when the going gets tough, the tough get going and I think that’s what you’re witnessing here,” said Longenhagen. “I just hope that one day we’ll be able to return the favor.

The Rep will be able to open on time. For more information, click here. 

For more information on how to attend the Lab’s shows this weekend, click here.