Sometimes I hit the side of my head in frustration. Can’t anything go right. The Rialto is amid some refurbishing and we are on a strict budget. Everything we can afford has been factored in so we don’t want any surprises. Money doesn’t appear out of nowhere and we have done our fundraising for the year. So, what is the fuss all about.

The theater resides in an old building that is practically a landmark since it has been in existence so long. It was built with pride many decades ago by the town’s founding fathers and we don’t want to mess with the archetypal design. However, in the olden days, patrons would smoke during a performance. It was similar in movie theaters, restaurants, airplanes, hospitals, and libraries. It didn’t matter as long as it was a public building. Oh, how times have changed. You can’t even carry a pack of cigarettes inside. Ha!

We know that smoking was allowed because the theater has a musty smell, especially in the summer. It has been cleaned a thousand times and sprayed with deodorizer to no avail. The smoke is deep in its bones. Years and years, it has accumulated disappearing into the rafters. Sure, the seats have been reupholstered, but it hasn’t resolved the problem. This is the legacy of history. What is old stays old.

We had an air purifier for a time which helped immensely and almost got rid of the telltale odor, but it broke and was never replaced due to budget constraints. We always have them. Now it is time to do something proactive before the next performing arts season begins. Do we want to spend the money or apply it to something else such as a new theater curtain? They cost a fortune. We could re-stain the stage, rebuild the stairs from the auditorium to the stage, put in some new lights, paint backdrops, improve the dressing rooms, or buy new costumes. I can think of many more worthy ways to spend the money. But…that smell.

We are hotly debating the problem and decided to sit in the audience for a while and take a vote while experiencing the smell, such as it is today. It is a bit warm so the odor is more intense than usual. It calms down at night. This is the best argument for the new air purifier for cigarette smoke: No More Smoke Smell. One member of the board knows a local provider and has asked for a discount. To our great surprise, he offered to donate the unit of our choice. The issue was put to rest. No vote needed. We get what we want and more. There is money left over to re-landscape the courtyard, paint the exterior, make a new sign, and some of the items mentioned above.

It is a happy day at the Rialto and the budget is no longer groaning with strain. It knows it can provide what we want and need for the upcoming season.