WILKES-BARRE — The show must go on, even without a permanent home.
Productions from the “Kids Innovating Stage and Sound” Theatre Company’s three age groups have been popping up all over the city, even as the troupe prepares to launch a fundraiser so that they can work toward creating a performance space of their own.
“We’re homeless,” said interim artistic director David Parmalee. “We’re leading a nomadic life.”
St. Nicholas/St. Mary’s School recently hosted a performance by the “middles.” The “littles” put on a production at the Little Theatre of Wilkes-Barre. And the George P. Maffei II Theatre at King’s College is hosting the “seniors” doing “Titanic: The Musical,” which began on Sunday and will continue this Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
KISS supporters hope Friday’s upcoming social media-driven fundraising effort will fetch enough money to build at least the essentials for a central performance space in the East End Centre. The campaign, promoted on Facebook and the theatre company’s website, asks for 2,500 people to donate $25 on July 25.
Meeting the goal would allow construction of a no-frills venue in the East End Centre, and allow the company to move in ahead of the Nov 7 opening night of “West Side Story,” Parmalee said. Future funding would pay for aesthetic improvements, he added, like carpeting and a lobby.
“You can do theatre without all of those things,” he said.
In total, Parmalee said, the project will cost around $170,000, of which about $50,000 has been raised so far. Half of that came in the form of a $25,000 grant from the Colleen Shea Children’s Foundation in May.
KISS was told in March it had until June to vacate its former home at the Wyoming Valley Mall, but widespread community support and a space offer from developer Joe Amato swiftly curbed any fears of impending doom.
Parmalee said he’s confident that support will come through for the theatre once again.
“We think it’s going to be fantastic. We’re very positive about it,” Parmalee said.
Walter Mitchell, KISS co-founder and general manager at the Little Theatre, said he shares Parmalee’s confidence.
He said the fundraising model has worked for other organizations in the past, and called the 25/25/25 campaign both ingenious and reasonable.
“Extremely reasonable,” he said. “Almost ridiculously reasonable.”
When KISS nearly found itself without a home, Mitchell and the Little Theatre’s board of directors stepped in to provide a place for KISS’s next scheduled performance almost immediately.
Mitchell said the move was a no-brainer.
“I wish all my decisions were so easy,” he said.
Though Mitchell no longer serves KISS in any official capacity, he said he still feels very emotionally close to the theatre company.
“Young people need a place to learn the craft of theatre,” he said. “And KISS is the best place to do it.”
Mitchell said he and the Little Theatre’s board will be making their contributions to the fundraiser Friday, and he urges anyone else with concern for young people to contribute as well.