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York Theatre Company Vows To Return Despite Pandemic And Water Main Break Flooding Its Performance Space

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) - The theater industry has taken a big hit during this pandemic.

A longtime off-Broadway theater is facing another challenge after a water main break flooded the church where it's housed.

The York Theatre Company has operated out of the basement of St. Peter's church for 30 years. It is being forced to removed everything in less than three days after a devastating flood.

General Manager Aaron Simms was overcome by feelings of despair when he unlocked the doors for the first time since last March.

"It was a mixture of water and mud, which made it absolutely terrible. It looked like a swamp because of the water and mud, and it was caked in all the carpets," he told CBS2's Christina Fan.

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The damage was left behind by the water main break on Lexington and East 54th Street last Tuesday. It left 18 inches of water in parts of the theater.

It's a race against time now to rescue the theater's 50-year history before mold sets in.

For the last few days, workers have been frantically disassembling wires and lights, packing up props and costumes for storage so a remediation team can come in and reassess the damage.

The theater company says the water first flooded the sanctuary above it, then came from the ceiling of the green room, where the company keeps its scripts. Many of the screenplays are now forever lost.

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"We spent several days last week peeling wet script pages apart, trying to save them because some of them are things we have rediscovered or brought back to life and are not readily available," said Producing Artistic Director Jim Morgan.

"The floors will have to be redone. The stage will have to be rebuilt and they have to make sure there is no mold in the walls," said Executive Director Evans Haile.

Despite all the hardships, the York Theatre Company is determined to reopen. Whenever and wherever that may be, the company is hoping to rely on the generosity of the local community.

"We have no intention of going out of business," Morgan said.

"If they can, give us a hand because if ever there was a time that we need live performance, live arts and that notion of being together, it's now," Haile said.

For now, the York is supporting itself by putting on a series of virtual shows and starting an online donation campaign, preparing for the day the curtain will rise again.

To make a donation, CLICK HERE.

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Christina Fan contributed to this report. 

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