Friday, January 02, 2009

Carousel Dinner Theatre rumored to close

This is no way to welcome in a new year -- it appears that The Carousel Dinner Theatre is about to close for good, according to an article in the Akron Beacon Journal. We were warned that the economy was going to get worse before it gets better, and for those of us involved in the theatre biz, the shut downs and early closings are bound to increase as times get harder.

In San Francisco, the Magic Theatre is teetering on the brink of closure. It's getting so I dread opening up Stage Directions, because each issue brings more bad theatre news. It is not really a surprise, because professional theatre is very expensive to produce and in hard times, one can buy a lot of groceries with what one would pay for a theatre ticket.

Carousel's ticket prices are not cheap, even with the price of a meal factored in. They've survived for years on the senior citizen bus tour packages, but in hard times the seniors might be opting for less expensive outings.

I've been to more shows at the Carousel in the past couple of years than I have in my entire theatre-going career. Honestly, most of the shows they do are not exactly my cup of tea -- however, many of my students have been cast in recent productions. Therefore I have gone and put up with their crappy vegetarian alternative plate and fairly entertaining productions. Best one was Urinetown, hands down, but it was a financial disaster for the theatre.

Carousel gave my students a wonderful opportunity to experience long runs with a professional company, runs that included several two-a-days each week. That sort of experience teaches them all about the kind of discipline it takes to be a working professional. I know the news is going to make my students very sad. And then of course there are all the local folks who have been collecting paychecks from Carousel -- some long term staff members are undoubtedly in shock today. My heart goes out to them.

Will the Obama era of change bring about another form of the Federal Theatre Project? Let's hope so, and perhaps this recession will encourage forms of theatre that are not so expensive to produce.

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