North Shore Music Theatre May Close

The North Shore Music Theatre in Beverly, Mass., will be forced to close its doors after 53 years unless the nonprofit raises $500,000 by the end of January.

“Effects of the crumpling economy, lower than expected donations and ticket sales all season long have left the theatre unable to cover its operating costs, a national decade-long trend that is impacting theaters across the country,” the theater said in a statement reported by the Boston Globe.

“Further compounding the problem is debt that resulted from a devastating fire in 2005 that forced the theatre to make a major investment in its facilities.”

Carol LaRosa, the theater’s manager of public relations, told Pollstar the venue needs to raise the $500,000 in order to allow a minimal staff to continue fund-raising efforts because the ultimate goal is to raise $4 million by April.

“If we raise those funds – the $4 million by April – that would ensure that we have a season and we are open for the 2009 season,” LaRosa said. She explained that if the initial $500,000 isn’t raised, “at that point, the theatre will close.”

The theatre announced in a press release Dec. 29 that it was forced to lay off 57 employees effective Jan. 11, the end of its performance season. The venue is wrapping up a run of “High School Musical 2,” a show the theatre chose to produce this season instead of the traditional performance of “A Christmas Carol.”

Last year’s performance of “High School Musical” raked in 52,000 tickets for the theatre but the sequel sold far less – as of Dec. 30, the Boston Globe noted, there were only about 13,000 tickets sold.

North Shore urged the public to purchase tickets to the remaining HSM2 shows or make donations through the theatre’s Web site.

LaRosa said the theatre sold more than 1,900 tickets between the Dec. 29 announcement and Jan. 5.

“Our board has looked into borrowing money but that is not an option at this point,” LaRosa said. “We’re appealing to the community to make donations, we are encouraging people to purchase tickets to ‘High School Musical 2’ and we are working to solicit major donations from individuals and corporations.”