The Strand gets touched up

Published 10:42 am Saturday, September 8, 2007

SHREVEPORT, La. (AP) — Before the show goes on at the Strand Theatre, the Shreveport venue’s maintenance crew has a little painting to do.

A faulty HVAC system — which was replaced earlier this year for about $320,000 — leaked and caused paint chips and water drips to fall from the four-story ceiling to the downstage area and front-row seats.

Two theater maintenance workers are using a boom lift, which is parked on stage, to reach the ceiling damage.

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“We’re trying to be finished by the day before our annual fundraising event,” said Danny Fogger, executive director of the Strand. “Stranded in Time” is scheduled for Sept. 14.

Fogger said he was fortunate to find a boom lift that could reach the ceiling. He had planned to have scaffolding erected, which would have cost more.

On a recent Wednesday, maintenance man David Fuselier hovered 40 feet above plastic-covered seats while standing on the caged-in platform at the end of the boom lift’s jittery, extended arm. He applied coats of gold, blue and light tan paint to a small section of the ceiling’s ornamental detail.

“This is my hobby that I’m not enjoying right now,” said Fuselier, a retired Shreveport police officer who began working for the Strand full time more than a year ago. While stretching a paint roller far beyond the platform’s end, he confessed, “I don’t like heights.”

For now, most of the repairs are cosmetic: removing loose paint, applying a fresh coat and making minor plaster repairs where necessary.

“A lot of this is old damage, and it’s been there for a long time,” Fuselier said. “We’re just trying to get enough done to get the season started.”

Any significant plaster damage they find will be repaired later.

The Strand opened in 1925 and underwent extensive renovations in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Its 2007-08 season will kick off Sept. 29 with the Chinese Golden Dragon Acrobats.