On the stage and behind the scenes

The NarroWay Blog

Chapter 36: When it Rains It Pours

sitting in rain

REBECCA –
Performing in an outdoor amphitheater, we got used to the rain. But sometimes, when it rained, it poured!

BIRDIE –
We didn’t realize 2004-05 would be our last years at King’s Arena. Our lease was for nine years, 1997-2005, with first option to renew for six years.

REBECCA –
When we signed that lease in October 1996, I remember thinking, “Nine years! That’s such a long time!” ...HA!
We had talked to the property owners several times about purchasing the amphitheater, but, they wanted to sell the 2000+ acres as a whole.

BIRDIE –
...Not exactly in our budget!

REBECCA –
Besides affordability, the amphitheater was in a terrible location and needed costly repairs. But we all loved it and couldn’t imagine leaving.

BIRDIE –
Rumors had been swirling about a sale of the property for years. But in August 2004, the talk became real when the property actually sold.

REBECCA –
Our first meeting with the new owner went well. He expressed interest in NarroWay staying.

BIRDIE –
He brought his wife to the second meeting. That meeting didn’t leave me with a warm, fuzzy feeling.

REBECCA –
He called a third meeting. We had a notepad. He had a lawyer.
The jest of that meeting is summed up in this condensed paraphrase:
Him: I want you to leave.
Us: Our lease goes through December 2005 and we have tickets sold.
Him: I want you to leave now.
Us: Not until our lease is up.
Him: It will be very difficult for you if you stay.

BIRDIE –
He kept his word. And we kept ours.

closed road

REBECCA –
Roads to the amphitheater were closed. Our water was randomly cut off when we had large groups for field trips. About once a week he would visit the office to harass, make accusations and threaten law suits.

BIRDIE –
He hired an accountant, with his lawyer, to scrutinize all our records because he claimed we were in breach of contract. And, he declared that everything we had in the amphitheater was now his, including our lights, sound, ice machine...everything!

REBECCA –
There are no words to express how difficult this person made our lives. We had never encountered an enemy like this.

BIRDIE –
But this was just the beginning. As they say, “when it rains, it pours!”

REBECCA –
That October, our staff member and dear friends, Donna Patterson and her husband, JP, were in a horrible accident. Donna was seriously injured. JP was killed.

Donna and JPDonna and JP in the amphitheater lobby.
Donna in wheelchairFollowing the accident, Donna performed the Christmas show from a wheelchair that year.

BIRDIE –
Afterwards, on November 5, I was sitting in my doctor’s office, listening to the words: “Yvonne, you have breast cancer.”

REBECCA –
Fighting for our lives. Fighting for our property. Fighting for our future.

BIRDIE –
Johnny and Marie King had once told us that they would donate money if we could find affordable property. Now, facing surgery and an uncertain future, we hardly knew where to begin.

REBECCA –
Even if we purchased land, we couldn’t afford to build a theater.

BIRDIE –
We were driving down US 21. It was junked by buildings pandering cash for titles, gambling machines and lottery tickets. Even the town’s own local newspaper mocked the route, sarcastically calling it “Fort Vegas,” not Fort Mill.
We had driven it hundreds of times, but today’s drive would be different.

Suddenly Rebecca leaned forward and looked back!

REBECCA –
Did you see that!?

BIRDIE –
You scared me to death!!

REBECCA –
Turn the car around and look to your left!

BIRDIE –
I did but I didn’t see anything unusual.

REBECCA –
Turn left at the light!

BIRDIE –
I didn’t know where I was going.

REBECCA –
Turn! ...Here!!

BIRDIE –
I turned into a run-down warehouse right in the midst of the video poker kingdom!

What the heck are we doing here?

REBECCA –
Look!

BIRDIE –
Rebecca pointed at a sign: BUILDING FOR LEASE, with a phone number.

REBECCA –
Call and ask if they will sell!

BIRDIE –
A sharp business woman answered.
Yes! We can see it.
No! She will not sell it.

REBECCA –
Birdie arranged for us to see inside the building but they insisted there was still no chance of selling.

BIRDIE –
When we went in, I couldn’t see how it would ever be a theater, but I saw in Rebecca’s eyes that she did!

REBECCA –
The facility was owned by a wonderful woman, Nancy Smith. And that day she agreed to consider selling.

BIRDIE –
On November 16, we met the Board of Directors and some advisors at the facility. The next morning I was scheduled for surgery.

REBECCA –
While Birdie, Nancy and the Lord talked privately, I walked the rest through the building, explaining how we would make a classy Christian dinner theater out of a scruffy warehouse located in the middle of a gambling haven.

BIRDIE –
And so it came to be that Nancy Smith agreed to sell.
Johnny and Marie King agreed to give.
And NarroWay had a future home.

REBECCA –
So, when it rains, and it pours, always remember this:
We serve the God of rainbows!

reainbow over warehouse

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Chapter 37: The Chandelier
Chapter 35: The Name


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