NORTH CANTON  The North Canton Playhouse is planning a remodel and expansion of the space it occupies inside Hoover High School. The group has started a capital campaign to raise the projected $1.5 million needed to complete the project.

The North Canton Playhouse moved into the Hoover High School in 1997. The 40-year-old organization contributed to the remodeling cost of the high school which covered their rent for two decades. The growth of the Playhouse is evident from the numbers compiled over the years.

During the past 40 years, North Canton Playhouse has had more than 2,500 adults, 4,000 students and 1,500 kids participate in productions. It has sold 320,000 tickets for 400 productions covering 5,000 hours.

"The project has five phases including three remodel and two expansion projects," said Mark Vandegrift, president of the board and the coordinator of the capital improvement campaign. "The first couple of phases include raising the roof over the stage area for a proper fly system, replacing the lecture style seating with theater style seating. We’re also planning to create a Playhouse lobby and ticket area. The last two parts include adding 3,600 square feet to the building and updating signage."

The seating will go from 120 to 220 seats, which offers a number of benefits. The Playhouse has to perform additional shows to get the needed ticket sales and, with additional seating, the number of shows performed can be reduced. People will be able to select their seats when ordering tickets online. The room will also have improved ADA areas.

Providing a more private lobby and ticket office will eliminate confusion when other events are being held at the high school at the same time a Playhouse production is going on. The theater itself is used by high school students for study hall and other classes, and having a private ticket office will eliminate noise during the study halls.

The expansion will be along the front of the building where the current Playhouse stage doors face visitor parking. Additional rooms such as two new dressing rooms, an office, a set/scene shop and a costume shop will be built inside the addition.

"There are currently two dressing rooms, two bathrooms which will get new paint and updates and a black box theater which we’ll keep but move. We’re hoping to raise the money through private individual and corporate sponsors and grants," said Vandegrift.

The Playhouse hopes to start the remodel phases in the summer of 2017 and the expansion in the summer of 2018. Vandergrift said the high school will continue to use the theater for lectures and training classes for teachers and staff.

Executive Director Lisa Paynter said, "We are pleased that North Canton City Schools values us enough to have approved the expansion in concept and we look forward to continuing offering the youth in the area a supplemental experience with the performing arts."

She said many of their youth actors start at age seven to nine years old, and those kids many times become part of the arts programming at the district.

"There isn’t a lot of live theater in the area. We’ve been self-sustaining through ticket sales, an annual fundraiser and grants from the Hoover Foundation. We currently do eight productions a year and 80 percent of our programming is focused on youth," Paynter said.

To make a donation, make checks out to North Canton Playhouse (NCP) Capital Fund and mail it to 525 7th St. NE, North Canton, 44720.