Nonprofit hopes to find storage space for costumes, sets of Claremont kids' theatre program

POMONA, Calif. (KABC) -- For more than two decades, a nonprofit musical theatre education program housed its costumes and sets in a Pomona warehouse - for free -but no longer.

A warehouse on the corner of a CVS building has been a rent-free home of costumes and sets from productions of "Little Shop of Horrors" to "Annie," but now everything must be moved out in a matter of a week.

Melinda Branch, chair of Alliance for Performing Arts, sorted through one of the many costumes she helped to design, put together, or move in the 22 years she's been spearheading the group, originally called The Place.

She said she does it for the kids - a directive Melinda said came from the big man upstairs.

"God told me to do this. Work with the kids, work with the people, do theater," she said.

And she's helped more children than she can count.

"Hundreds, if not thousands," said Chuck Brasch, Melinda's husband.

He was the first to reach out for help when the deadline loomed close.

He said his wife's endeavors help children feel better about themselves and better connect with others.

One special find in the 6,000 square-foot warehouse is a stagecoach once owned and used by actress Debbie Reynolds in her show in Las Vegas. It's just one of the items Melinda said she wants to save and preserve for the future.

But time is running out. Melinda's theatre group needs a benefactor and a free space to move into by May 1st. It's a third and final act still looking for a hero to step in.

"I don't feel that way. I feel at peace. If we work it out, good. If we don't work it out - good," Melinda said.

Her reasoning is the show must go on - somewhere. And although she might have to sell or give away part of what's in the Pomona warehouse - she's keeping the costumes for her next show.
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