Saturday, December 13, 2008

FIRE IN A CROWDED THEATER! Audience and cast flees smoke-engulfed building during fifth performance of OLIVER TWIST

LEGAL NOTICE - I reserve the right to enforce copyright for the photographs and text in this article per the following terms: Star News Corporation, WGSR Star 39, News Channel 18, Charles Roark, and any and all agents and clients thereof, are explicitly prohibited from using any of the photographs and text in this article for broadcast purposes without express written permission from me. Which is not going to happen anyway. Any violation will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Any LEGITIMATE news reporting operations however may contact me at theknightshift@gmail.com, as I will be more than happy to provide such agencies with high quality versions of the photographs free of charge as a courtesy.
UPDATE 11:50 p.m. EST: Well, this was certainly a night to remember...

Tonight's performance of the Theatre Guild of Rockingham County's production of Oliver Twist came to an abrupt end when shortly before 9 p.m. and in the midst of Act 2, the audience, cast and crew had to be evacuated from the Advanced Technologies Building following a large amount of smoke which engulfed the ground level of the building. As of this writing the cause of the smoke had not been determined.

And since I'm playing Mr. Sowerberry in this production, I wound up right in the thick of the action.

Shortly before 9 p.m., Tamara Boles - mother of cast member Aaron Boles - rushed into the men's dressing area to tell us that "There's a fire in the building... I'M SERIOUS!" I was getting ready to take position for my last scene in the show so I was in full costume. We got all the kids out of the room and I grabbed my bag since it was right at the door. Kathy Morrison (who plays Old Sally and Mrs. Bedwin) and I held the outside doors open for the audience members as they were leaving, then we went back in to check to make sure that all the children had made it out and that there was nobody in the restrooms.

When we were outside, I broke out the camera, went back in and started taking some pictures. Here are some pics from the atrium in the Advanced Technologies Building, where the smoke was concentrated most...

Outside, stage manager Jessica Reed directed the audience members to take shelter in the nearby gymnasium. Meanwhile, we began to hear sirens from the Wentworth Fire Department...

A few moments later the first of the fire trucks arrived on the scene...

We counted six vehicles from the Wentworth Fire Department that came within the first several minutes. By this time most of the audience, cast and crew were in and around the gymnasium.

And here are the heroes of the hour: Michaela Mays and Faith Jones, the two girls who were the first to spot the smoke and sound the alarm. Ladies, my hat's off to you! :-)

Here is Jon Young, the director of Oliver Twist. It can most certainly be said that his was, literally, the hottest show in town on Saturday night...

And here's a pic of Thresa Brown (who has been giving absolutely splendid performances in her role as Mrs. Sowerberry) and Yours Truly as we oggled the mayhem...

A few minutes later, I was back inside the Advance Technologies Building. By this time it was around 9:20 p.m. Firefighters and a number of the adult cast and crew and other Theatre Guild reps were discussing the situation and considering what to do with the rest of the evening. Here is Mark Pegram, Clerk of Superior Court for Rockingham County (in his policeman costume) and a member of the Wentworth Fire Department...

Here is a ladder used by the Wentworth Fire Department as firefighters checked the space above the ceiling in the atrium, which seemed to have been where much of the smoke was coming from...

The stage, showing the London street toward the end of Oliver Twist, just as it was when the building had to be evacuated...

Theatre Guild board members Jeff Mericle, Rose Cutuli Wray, and Tony Hummel (in his Mr. Brownlow costume) confer with each other about how to handle the rest of the performance. It was ultimately decided that in the event that the next day's performance would go on, that tickets from tonight would be honored and that audience members who had come from out of state would be given free tickets to a future performance...

Cast members Tim Wray (Fagin) and Mike Morrison (Bill Sikes) held position at the exit...

Here's another shot of the fire trucks on the scene...

Back in the gymnasium, the crowd was calm... but it couldn't be helped that there was considerable excitement in the air. Especially among the kids in the cast: no doubt they were going to have quite a tale to tell their friends the next day! Here are Tish Owens (Nancy) and Tyler Alverson (Noah Claypole)...

Nell Rose, one of the members of the Rockingham County Board of Education. She and her husband had already enjoyed one performance of Oliver Twist last week, and came back for another show. 'Cept this time, the cast members were just as surprised as the audience about the ending (credit goes to Pete Barr for coming up with that great line :-)...

The star of the show: Nathan Tolodziecki as Oliver...

Logan Brown (who plays one of the orphans) and Tamara Boles...

And here is Jake Chandler, who thrilled audiences as Dr. Roy in last season's Ghostchasers!, and who has been playing another orphan in Oliver Twist...

By this time it was getting close to 10 p.m. Most of the audience had left, but the cast and crew was still around. We were waiting to hear when we could go back inside 'cuz most of the cast still had things like clothes and car keys in the dressing rooms. What exactly had caused all that smoke still had not been determined, but firefighters allowed the cast and crew to quickly return to the building and retrieve their personal belongings...

Jasper Thomas III (in his fine attire as the Artful Dodger) scopes out the scene...

Cast members Tish Owens and Donna Owens head to the parking lot as the cast and crew retreated from the building...

Another shot of the emergency vehicles, just before I left a little after 10...

And here's the last shot, taken from the driveway entrance and looking toward the Advance Technologies Building...

So far at this hour, we still haven't heard what might have caused all that smoke (believe you me, the pics can't possibly convey how much of the stuff there was). We didn't see any actual flames but you know, "Where there's smoke..." Without knowing about what the source of the smoke might have been, there has been no word so far as to whether tomorrow's final performance of Oliver Twist will be taking place. As soon as I hear anything, I will post it as an update.

It was a wild night, to be sure. But I think for the most part, especially for the kids in the cast, it's just gonna make their time and effort in this production that much more memorable :-)

Bigtime kudos to the Wentworth Fire Department, the maintenance and security staff at Rockingham Community College, the leadership of the Theatre Guild of Rockingham County, and anyone else that I have not already mentioned who were involved in evacuating the building and making sure that everyone was safe, for the very prompt and professional action that they took tonight.

EDIT 1:06 a.m. EST 12/14/2008: I have just received word that the Wentworth Fire Department found the cause of the smoke (what that was exactly still hasn't been reported). They have given the signal that we can proceed with the final performance of Oliver Twist on Sunday afternoon (now later today) at 2:30. So the show will go on! :-)

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

Very good to legally deny Charles Roark the right to use your photos. You did a good job of real journalism and he should not profit because he does not want to move his sorry lazy ass to organize a real news reporting station.

Anonymous said...

Yeah! We want to get our news from the real journalists embedded in the Rockingham County Theater Guild.

Anonymous said...

Can't imagine any News Operation wanting to use these Pictures, they are too dark...maybe you should invest in some lights if you want to play reporter.
Maybe the Person who took the one of you and Charles Roake posted on The Rockingham Tattler can give you some lessons....much better picture

sncod said...

More real journalism on this blog than theres ever been on Star News.

Anonymous said...

Three anonymous and one pseudonym...hey Richard, you've been busy, haven't you?

marc said...

Obviously the source of the smoke was because your performance was smoking hot.

(rimshot)

Sidney Z. said...

And if Chunky Roark and Star News use Chris's pictures then Chris can sue and he won't lose. If he said they cannot use his pictures then there is nothing they can do about it. There have been cases where violators were sued and were made to pay millions in damages. Chunky Roark is too lazy to make his own news coverage so he has to steal it from others but does he want to steal from Chris this time? Not if he wants his mama to not lose the tv station that he plays with.

Chris Knight said...

Actually, I have very good reasons to deny WGSR and Charles Roark the right to broadcast these pictures. And the fact that Roark (a) is too lazy to put together a real newsgathering operation and (b) does steal the work of others (not just talking Wal-Mart or WLOS either, folks) has nothing to do with any of those reasons.

Anonymous said...

Chris
These photos are fantastic. You do fantastic work. I am amazed at what you could do if you had a movie theatre.

Your writing is first-class excellence. Have you ever thought of publishing some type of magazine?

Chris Knight said...

Thank you!

"Your writing is first-class excellence. Have you ever thought of publishing some type of magazine?"

Got something much better in mind :-)

Anonymous said...

Nice write up, Chris. I have saved your blog to my favorites and plan to read it fairly regularly. I enjoy writing as well, so I find you quite interesting!

Tony aka Brownlow

Anonymous said...

It's amazing how many articles on this blog turn into something about Charles Roark, WGSR, and/or Johnny Roberton.

Even a simple story about smoke forcing an evacuation of a play almost immediately mutates into an anti-Roark rant.

Incredible.

Chris Knight said...

As I said before, my reasons for denying WGSR/Charles Roark the right to use these photos has nothing to do with events of the past months.

I am just taking the responsibility that Charles Roark has refused to demonstrate in his capacity as general manager of a television station.

Anonymous said...

Charles Bullington Roark is so interesting. And you never know he could possibly get another one of those urges.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

FIRE IN A CROWDED THEATER! Audience and cast flees smoke-engulfed building during fifth performance of OLIVER TWIST

LEGAL NOTICE - I reserve the right to enforce copyright for the photographs and text in this article per the following terms: Star News Corporation, WGSR Star 39, News Channel 18, Charles Roark, and any and all agents and clients thereof, are explicitly prohibited from using any of the photographs and text in this article for broadcast purposes without express written permission from me. Which is not going to happen anyway. Any violation will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Any LEGITIMATE news reporting operations however may contact me at theknightshift@gmail.com, as I will be more than happy to provide such agencies with high quality versions of the photographs free of charge as a courtesy.
UPDATE 11:50 p.m. EST: Well, this was certainly a night to remember...

Tonight's performance of the Theatre Guild of Rockingham County's production of Oliver Twist came to an abrupt end when shortly before 9 p.m. and in the midst of Act 2, the audience, cast and crew had to be evacuated from the Advanced Technologies Building following a large amount of smoke which engulfed the ground level of the building. As of this writing the cause of the smoke had not been determined.

And since I'm playing Mr. Sowerberry in this production, I wound up right in the thick of the action.

Shortly before 9 p.m., Tamara Boles - mother of cast member Aaron Boles - rushed into the men's dressing area to tell us that "There's a fire in the building... I'M SERIOUS!" I was getting ready to take position for my last scene in the show so I was in full costume. We got all the kids out of the room and I grabbed my bag since it was right at the door. Kathy Morrison (who plays Old Sally and Mrs. Bedwin) and I held the outside doors open for the audience members as they were leaving, then we went back in to check to make sure that all the children had made it out and that there was nobody in the restrooms.

When we were outside, I broke out the camera, went back in and started taking some pictures. Here are some pics from the atrium in the Advanced Technologies Building, where the smoke was concentrated most...

Outside, stage manager Jessica Reed directed the audience members to take shelter in the nearby gymnasium. Meanwhile, we began to hear sirens from the Wentworth Fire Department...

A few moments later the first of the fire trucks arrived on the scene...

We counted six vehicles from the Wentworth Fire Department that came within the first several minutes. By this time most of the audience, cast and crew were in and around the gymnasium.

And here are the heroes of the hour: Michaela Mays and Faith Jones, the two girls who were the first to spot the smoke and sound the alarm. Ladies, my hat's off to you! :-)

Here is Jon Young, the director of Oliver Twist. It can most certainly be said that his was, literally, the hottest show in town on Saturday night...

And here's a pic of Thresa Brown (who has been giving absolutely splendid performances in her role as Mrs. Sowerberry) and Yours Truly as we oggled the mayhem...

A few minutes later, I was back inside the Advance Technologies Building. By this time it was around 9:20 p.m. Firefighters and a number of the adult cast and crew and other Theatre Guild reps were discussing the situation and considering what to do with the rest of the evening. Here is Mark Pegram, Clerk of Superior Court for Rockingham County (in his policeman costume) and a member of the Wentworth Fire Department...

Here is a ladder used by the Wentworth Fire Department as firefighters checked the space above the ceiling in the atrium, which seemed to have been where much of the smoke was coming from...

The stage, showing the London street toward the end of Oliver Twist, just as it was when the building had to be evacuated...

Theatre Guild board members Jeff Mericle, Rose Cutuli Wray, and Tony Hummel (in his Mr. Brownlow costume) confer with each other about how to handle the rest of the performance. It was ultimately decided that in the event that the next day's performance would go on, that tickets from tonight would be honored and that audience members who had come from out of state would be given free tickets to a future performance...

Cast members Tim Wray (Fagin) and Mike Morrison (Bill Sikes) held position at the exit...

Here's another shot of the fire trucks on the scene...

Back in the gymnasium, the crowd was calm... but it couldn't be helped that there was considerable excitement in the air. Especially among the kids in the cast: no doubt they were going to have quite a tale to tell their friends the next day! Here are Tish Owens (Nancy) and Tyler Alverson (Noah Claypole)...

Nell Rose, one of the members of the Rockingham County Board of Education. She and her husband had already enjoyed one performance of Oliver Twist last week, and came back for another show. 'Cept this time, the cast members were just as surprised as the audience about the ending (credit goes to Pete Barr for coming up with that great line :-)...

The star of the show: Nathan Tolodziecki as Oliver...

Logan Brown (who plays one of the orphans) and Tamara Boles...

And here is Jake Chandler, who thrilled audiences as Dr. Roy in last season's Ghostchasers!, and who has been playing another orphan in Oliver Twist...

By this time it was getting close to 10 p.m. Most of the audience had left, but the cast and crew was still around. We were waiting to hear when we could go back inside 'cuz most of the cast still had things like clothes and car keys in the dressing rooms. What exactly had caused all that smoke still had not been determined, but firefighters allowed the cast and crew to quickly return to the building and retrieve their personal belongings...

Jasper Thomas III (in his fine attire as the Artful Dodger) scopes out the scene...

Cast members Tish Owens and Donna Owens head to the parking lot as the cast and crew retreated from the building...

Another shot of the emergency vehicles, just before I left a little after 10...

And here's the last shot, taken from the driveway entrance and looking toward the Advance Technologies Building...

So far at this hour, we still haven't heard what might have caused all that smoke (believe you me, the pics can't possibly convey how much of the stuff there was). We didn't see any actual flames but you know, "Where there's smoke..." Without knowing about what the source of the smoke might have been, there has been no word so far as to whether tomorrow's final performance of Oliver Twist will be taking place. As soon as I hear anything, I will post it as an update.

It was a wild night, to be sure. But I think for the most part, especially for the kids in the cast, it's just gonna make their time and effort in this production that much more memorable :-)

Bigtime kudos to the Wentworth Fire Department, the maintenance and security staff at Rockingham Community College, the leadership of the Theatre Guild of Rockingham County, and anyone else that I have not already mentioned who were involved in evacuating the building and making sure that everyone was safe, for the very prompt and professional action that they took tonight.

EDIT 1:06 a.m. EST 12/14/2008: I have just received word that the Wentworth Fire Department found the cause of the smoke (what that was exactly still hasn't been reported). They have given the signal that we can proceed with the final performance of Oliver Twist on Sunday afternoon (now later today) at 2:30. So the show will go on! :-)

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

Very good to legally deny Charles Roark the right to use your photos. You did a good job of real journalism and he should not profit because he does not want to move his sorry lazy ass to organize a real news reporting station.

Anonymous said...

Yeah! We want to get our news from the real journalists embedded in the Rockingham County Theater Guild.

Anonymous said...

Can't imagine any News Operation wanting to use these Pictures, they are too dark...maybe you should invest in some lights if you want to play reporter.
Maybe the Person who took the one of you and Charles Roake posted on The Rockingham Tattler can give you some lessons....much better picture

sncod said...

More real journalism on this blog than theres ever been on Star News.

Anonymous said...

Three anonymous and one pseudonym...hey Richard, you've been busy, haven't you?

marc said...

Obviously the source of the smoke was because your performance was smoking hot.

(rimshot)

Sidney Z. said...

And if Chunky Roark and Star News use Chris's pictures then Chris can sue and he won't lose. If he said they cannot use his pictures then there is nothing they can do about it. There have been cases where violators were sued and were made to pay millions in damages. Chunky Roark is too lazy to make his own news coverage so he has to steal it from others but does he want to steal from Chris this time? Not if he wants his mama to not lose the tv station that he plays with.

Chris Knight said...

Actually, I have very good reasons to deny WGSR and Charles Roark the right to broadcast these pictures. And the fact that Roark (a) is too lazy to put together a real newsgathering operation and (b) does steal the work of others (not just talking Wal-Mart or WLOS either, folks) has nothing to do with any of those reasons.

Anonymous said...

Chris
These photos are fantastic. You do fantastic work. I am amazed at what you could do if you had a movie theatre.

Your writing is first-class excellence. Have you ever thought of publishing some type of magazine?

Chris Knight said...

Thank you!

"Your writing is first-class excellence. Have you ever thought of publishing some type of magazine?"

Got something much better in mind :-)

Anonymous said...

Nice write up, Chris. I have saved your blog to my favorites and plan to read it fairly regularly. I enjoy writing as well, so I find you quite interesting!

Tony aka Brownlow

Anonymous said...

It's amazing how many articles on this blog turn into something about Charles Roark, WGSR, and/or Johnny Roberton.

Even a simple story about smoke forcing an evacuation of a play almost immediately mutates into an anti-Roark rant.

Incredible.

Chris Knight said...

As I said before, my reasons for denying WGSR/Charles Roark the right to use these photos has nothing to do with events of the past months.

I am just taking the responsibility that Charles Roark has refused to demonstrate in his capacity as general manager of a television station.

Anonymous said...

Charles Bullington Roark is so interesting. And you never know he could possibly get another one of those urges.