PACT's new building

Portage Area Community Theatre members, from left, Bob Viking, Tim Prochnow, Doreen Viking, Sheril Lannoye, Charlotte Reckling and Eric Weiss get "silly" Thursday in front of the group's new building at 11 Main St. in Portage.

NOAH VERNAU/Daily Register

Portage Area Community Theatre has a new building that needs a lot of work. The solution calls for six nights of rock ‘n’ roll.

PACT is planning a fundraiser that features music from the 1950s and 1960s — dubbed “WPACT on 263.” It’s a mock radio show, complete with karaoke performances, old-fashioned radio commercials and audience participation.

The shows are scheduled for March 10-12 and March 17-19, to be held at 7 p.m. on the Fridays and Saturdays and at 2 p.m. on the Sundays at Portage Center for the Arts. Tickets are $12 for adults and $5 for kids.

PACT late last year purchased a vacant building at 11 Main St., a short distance from the Portage Center for the Arts. The building, constructed in 1925, is in need of several repairs, including to its roof and facade, PACT members explained on site.

“We need to get it water-tight first,” Eric Weiss said, noting extensive water damage to the building’s exterior. Most of the funds raised, he added, will go to fixing the roof. Future fundraisers would target fixing the heating and air-conditioning.

“Ideally, rehearsals could be held here,” Tim Prochnow said. Members noted the space is already being used for storage of set pieces and might soon be used for PACT meetings. The dream scenario would be to someday use the building for small-scale PACT performances.

PACT does at least two shows a year, typically in the fall and spring. “WPACT on 263” is considered the group’s spring show.

“For people who were fans of Elvis, the Beach Boys, The Chiffons, our people will be singing those favorites,” PACT President Sheril Lannoye said.

“It’s quite the variety show, packed into two hours,” said Trish Trinrud, the writer and director of “WPACT on 263,” which got its name since most radio stations begin with the letter ‘W’ and the P.O. Box for PACT is 263.

PACT has more than 30 people involved in the show, Trinrud said. Much of the show will be live singing courtesy of call-in requests, with a deejay on stage spinning records and relaying information about the tracks. The show will also involve “your typical stage manager” from the era, who will inform the audience when to laugh and applaud. Commercials will include classic ads with the “catchy one-liners,” like Alka-Seltzer’s “Plop, plop, fizz, fizz, oh what a relief it is!”

Singers will vary from night to night, with some repeats, but Trinrud expects enough variety to get people who enjoy one show to come to another. Members hope it becomes an annual tradition.

“If we get a turnout, if people like this venue, you can do a show like this every year and change the focus,” said Trinrud, a PACT member since 1977. “If you want to do one next year with the same title, it could be all country western, and another year with show tunes.

“It’s like a maiden voyage — well see if it’s an interest to the community or not.”

Lannoye, a PACT member since 1988, said the new building’s location is “perfect” since the group intends to share storage space with PCA. Both groups have big set pieces, and more storage space means the pieces can be more easily used again and again.

PACT over the years has relied on the generosity of local businesses for storage space, having used space in Portage Furniture Store for the past several years. “We’re like nomads and gypsies,” Lannoye said. “We’re always moving our stuff.”

The new building begins a new chapter for PACT, which has about 100 members. The group was first established as the Portage Players in 1971 before it became PACT in 1980, Lannoye said.

“So we’ve been around a long time,” she said. “We’re one of the longest-running theater groups in this area.”

The group strives to maintain the “essence” of the old building, which had last been in use more than 15 years ago by a taxi company owned by Bill and Joan Day, members said. The Days sold the roughly 4,000-square-foot building to PACT at a “fantastic” price, PACT member Bob Viking added.

For more information about PACT, visit the group’s website at PACTwi.biz.

Follow Noah Vernau on Twitter @NoahVernau

Portage Daily Register reporter