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With fundraising underway, Verona Area Community Theater is planning to nearly double its rehearsal space with a new building that could break ground as early as spring.

The community theater group is working with Madison-based CaS4 Architecture to design a new facility at an estimated cost of $2 million that would better meet the needs of the growing organization.

The new building would move VACT from its current location on Verona’s South Side to a more prominent location along Verona Avenue, next to the the city’s sterling $10 million fire station that is under construction.

VACT’s current building has rehearsal, storage and office space, as well as a set-building area equivalent in size to the stage at Verona High School.

But at around 5,000 square feet, the facility is often inadequate for all of the group’s needs, particularly with a growing children’s theater program, said Dee Baldock, treasurer for VACT.

“When they do their breakout (sessions), they’re singing in the office. They’re singing outside when the weather is decent. They’re singing in the costume room and in the halls. Every little space they can get, they break out into smaller groups to rehearse,” she said.

VACT is currently producing a children’s version of “The Sound of Music,” “White Christmas,” and “Singin’ in the Rain,” prompting the group to rent extra space two nights a week at Badger Ridge Middle School.

Preliminary designs for the new building call for larger music and dance rooms, a larger costume storage area, a separate set-construction area and a roughly 150-seat theater, where the group could host smaller shows.

The finished building is expected to be between 9,000 and 10,000 square feet.

VACT’s major productions, which attract 400 to 700 people, would continue to be held at the high school.

Verona has already received state approval for a $386,000 State Trust Fund Loan to buy VACT’s current facility and convert it for use by the city’s public works department, city administrator Bill Burns said.

The existing building is next to the city’s public works building.

So far, VACT has raised around $1 million toward the project. The organization hopes to break ground next spring.

“Right now we have three shows simultaneously rehearsing and contending for that space, and we’re planning for our next round of children’s shows in the spring, which can also overlap,” VACT president Dale Nickels said.

“So it’s sorely needed and we’re really excited to get moving on it.”

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