New Theater Group Brings Hope to Union Street Theatre Students

Danville, VA-- Union Street Theatre, a performing arts group in downtown Danville, has been temporarily closed since last October, which left Danville youth without a community theater group.

But now, a new alternative has emerged, there's now a new group that's filling their gap. The group is called Danville Center Stage. Local parents and volunteers stepped in earlier this year to make sure youth in Danville still have theater education opportunities.

"It was disappointing because I love it and I was afraid I wouldn't see some of the people again," said Alice Hayes, Danville Center Stage student.

When Union Street Theatre announced they were temporarily closed it left a lot of its students very upset.

"I was devastated to be honest," said Whit Whitfield, Danville Center Stage student.

Founder of the group, Melissa Charles, moved, and the group couldn't stay a float without her.

"It was sad," said Ryne Gammon. "It was really hard to believe that something that I had helped basically start was coming to an end. I said well it can't come to and end, we've got to find some way to keep it going even if I'm not involved forever."

With Union Street Theatre being the only community performing arts group in Danville, some parents said they had no choice but to help keep theatre education alive.

"We came up with the name Danville Center Stage," said Karen Hayes, Executive Director of Danville Center Stage. "We want to help them to learn about theater and give people a chance to come and see live performances and just to fill a need in this area."

And when news spread about Danville Center Stage, former Union Street Theatre students saw this as ray of hope, with a lot of them joining the new group.

"I'm really glad because theatre has kind of become my thing," Whitfield said.

"There's nothing to do in Danville except for what we love to do," Gammon said. "Danville Center Stage is going to help kids have the opportunity to have a fun summer and take many classes in theater."

The founder of Union Street Theatre said she still plans on moving forward with the group. She said she wants to be sure there is plenty of professional theater education available in Danville. However, it may take her about a year.