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Over the Ledge Theatre Company season upended by unsafe building designation

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Over the Ledge Theatre Company
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The Ledge's Playhouse at Fitzgerald Park in Grand Ledge, Michigan.

Following an inspection by the City of Grand Ledge, the Ledges Playhouse has been declared unsafe, leaving Over the Ledge Theatre Company without a home.

The more than a century old Ledges Playhouse at Fitzgerald Park was found to have issues with the roof, the fire suppression system, outdated exit signs and proper storage. The building is owned by the city and is leased by Over the Ledge.

Because of the closure, the company had to reschedule their first show, “The Realistic Joneses,” which was supposed to open June 2.

Over the Ledge founder Joe Dickson said he doesn’t expect financial hardship because of the closure, but he’s more concerned for volunteers.

“Everytime a theater or other performing arts organization in our community, or our Greater Lansing area community, loses a long-term performance space, a stable performing space, that has the effect of destabilizing every other performing arts group, even those who have stable homes,” he said.

The company is hoping to find a new location for two of its shows including the “The Realistic Joneses.” Meanwhile, the last two shows on their schedule, "Lone Star Spirits" and "Urine Trouble," have been canceled. Though disappointed, Dickson said it’s hard to argue with public safety.

“Rationally, although I understand there’s no way that I could have avoided this,” he said, “it still feels like a failure, I mean this building has been producing theater for more than 65 years now and it’s currently being shuttered on my watch and that’s, that’s hard.”

In a letter to City Manager Adam Smith, Building Official Al Hoard stated occupancy of the playhouse would be granted following the completion of both structural and code evaluations by a structural engineer and a professional architect. This includes any recommended alterations.

The building would also need to undergo a full inspection by the Grand Ledge Building Department which includes electrical, mechanical and plumbing. Lastly, the city would need to obtain a certificate of occupancy for appropriate usage.

Smith said the next step is to solicit proposals from structural engineers and architects to determine what the building’s needs are and what estimated costs will be.

In the meantime, Riverwalk Theatre in Lansing has agreed to help house some equipment for Over the Ledge while the Ledges Playhouse remains closed.

WKAR's Scott Pohl contributed to this report.

Melorie Begay is WKAR-FM's weekend host and a general assignment reporter.
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