HANFORD — After a piece of plaster from the ceiling fell on the stage over the weekend, Fox Theatre owner Dan Humason is cancelling events scheduled at the historic theater for the remainder of the year.

Cancelled events on the schedule include a Thursday showing of the holiday comedy “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation," a San Joaquin Valley College graduation ceremony on Saturday and the Kings Symphony Orchestra’s annual holiday concert on Sunday. The Kings Symphony Orchestra has changed its venue to Hanford High School's Presentation Center for 4 p.m. Sunday.

Humason said he's taking the step out of an abundance of caution. He said workers will take off the plaster over the stage and evaluate the material underneath to make sure it's sound.

"Everything that's above the stage, we're going to take apart," he said. "I need to be able to do a show and not worry about plaster falling on anybody. If there's any unknowns, we just want to eliminate the unknowns."

The plaster piece fell onto the stage Saturday before Brothers Osborne were set to perform.

Humason said that the plaster section over the stage wasn't part of a major restoration that closed the theater for more than a year and a half after a section of the concrete ceiling collapsed overnight in March 2014.

The theater reopened earlier this year after ceiling restoration work was completed.

Humason said the restoration work created vibrations that may have affected the plaster section over the stage.

Tom Webb, building official for the city, visited the theater Monday morning to look at the plaster damage. Webb said widespread reports that the roof or ceiling had collapsed over the weekend were false.

“Just a small piece of plaster came off the beam over center stage,” Webb said. “It would be the equivalent of a ceiling tile falling.”

Humason called the rumors "bizarre."

Webb said the fallen piece of lightweight plaster was about 2 feet by 3 feet in size. While the damage appeared to be fairly minor, Webb said, only a structural engineer could say for sure whether the stage is safe to use.

Humason said the piece of plaster, he said was about the size of a pizza box, fell just before the country music duo took the stage at 8 p.m. Saturday. After deliberating for about 20 minutes, Humason said he erred on the side of caution and canceled the show.

“The band wanted to go on, and I said, ‘No, I want to have an engineer look at it,’ ” Humason said.

Humason said no one was injured, and the falling plaster didn’t damage the stage or any instruments. He said the theater was not evacuated, and the audience of about 600 people remained calm.

Brothers Osborne posted on Twitter at 8:31 p.m. Saturday that the “ceiling caved in” and that the band would instead perform atop its tour bus in front of the theater’s marquee. Around 10 p.m., the band gave a 30-minute impromptu concert to hundreds of fans on Irwin Street.

“We took over the whole street,” Humason said. “It started to rain and nobody cared. It was impromptu and organic. [The band] got applause like you wouldn’t believe.”

Rumors of the damage being more substantial may have come from information the band and concertgoers posted on social media. Brothers Osborne posted the following on Facebook around 9 p.m. Saturday along with livestream video of the outdoor performance:

“For the second time in two weeks the ceiling caved in at one of our shows so we moved the party to the top of the bus,” the band posted on Facebook. “One of the most memorable moments of our career. Hanford, you were a blast! Love y'all!”

Brothers Osborne took to the streets with minimal equipment and played through songs from their debut album, "Pawn Shop."

This is the second time in two weeks TJ and John Osborne have wrangled with falling debris. The band cut short a Nov. 27 concert at the Egyptian Theater in Boise, Idaho, after chunks of plaster fell onto the stage. According to the venue’s website, the theater opened in 1927.

Humason said ticket holders from Saturday’s concert can request a refund or keep their tickets for a rescheduled Brothers Osborne concert. No date had been set for the makeup show as of Monday.

Webb said city inspectors signed off on the ceiling work that was completed over the auditorium. He said the recent damage affected the stage area, which was not inspected following the previous work that only affected the auditorium.

The reporter can be reached at 583-2458 or meiman@HanfordSentinel.com.

 

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