Tuesday, June 16, 2009

North Shore officially goes bust, amid new questions

Good-bye to all that: the North Shore's award-winning Showboat.

The North Shore Music Theatre has officially closed its doors, according to a statement on its website. The theatre had been struggling for several months to raise up to $2 million to fund a shortened season - but the real zinger, mentioned for the first time today as far as I know, is the theatre's debt load of $10 million. Given that number, the efforts of the last few months look like folly, and the excuse that the company's dire straits were caused by recent programming decisions looks like delusion (if not deception). And questions such as "How did the situation grow so dire?" immediately arise; you don't wind up with that kind of balance sheet after a single bad season. My guess is that the North Shore has been adrift for some time, perhaps since the fire that swept through its stage two years ago, and has been operating without a viable financial plan in place to eventually pay off the debts that renovation incurred. Elsewhere on the Internet, rumors are swirling, mostly about (now former) Artistic Director Barry Ivans jumping ship and heading for Pittsburgh (and apparently leaving a lot of bad blood behind). It may take a long time before we really know what went down at the North Shore - if we ever know. In the meantime, we're left without a venue in the Boston area devoted to fully professional musical theatre, one of the great, original American art forms. Perhaps such a venue will eventually appear. In the meantime I will miss the North Shore greatly.

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