'Overwhelming' community support helping Westport Playhouse recover from Ida floodwaters

WESTPORT — A week after Ida dumped floodwaters in part of the Westport Country Playhouse, staff are still cleaning up and assessing the damage.

Playhouse managing director Michael Barker said insurance adjusters have been visiting the facility, and determining how much damage was done by the storm that hit Westport Sept. 1.

“There was water in pretty much all of the carpet bottom in part of building,” he said. “Water got into everything.”

Following a musical performance the night of the storm, heavy rain and wind from Ida caused water to flow into the Playhouse, flooding hallways, performer dressing rooms, the green room, the boiler room and other spaces on the lower level and in the basement.

Barker said the Playhouse’s deductible is about $50,000, but it could take at least $60,000 “to get us back to zero.” So far, he said, the community has stepped up, raising about $32,000 in donations.

Barker said the community’s response to help the Playhouse has exceeded expectations.

“It was really overwhelming,” he said. “We thought, ‘We’re going to have to raise some money. Let’s see how it goes.’ ”

Another bright spot, he said, is the that the performance and audience space was largely unaffected by the storm. From 2 to 6 p.m. Sept. 15 to 19, the Playhouse will host a pop-up art show by the Artists Collective of Westport in its Barn. The playhouse also was able to finish a concert series the day after the flood.

“If you were an audience member, you wouldn’t know what had happened,” Barker said.

One problem is that the Playhouse’s dressing rooms still aren’t usable due to the floods. Barker said it’s a priority to get them operational again by the time the Playhouse hosts a performance of John Patrick Shanley’s “Doubt,” which will be its first in-person play performance since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Our hope and intention is by the time we get to the performances of ‘Doubt’ in November, we can have actors back in that (dressing room) space,” he said.

To donate to the Playhouse, visit bit.ly/WCPfloodrelief.