Pasadena Playhouse lists $102,000 in cash, $2.3 million in debts
Playhouse officials weren't commenting Tuesday, after the filing Monday night in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Los Angeles. But executive director Stephen Eich said theater leaders plan to share their "concept" for righting the ship soon. The playhouse has been closed since Feb. 7.
On first glance, it looks as if the Playhouse's problems reflect a truism among nonprofit organizations: that it's much easier to raise money for buildings than for ordinary operating expenses.
The evidence: Of the $7 million in total assets that the Playhouse lists, $5.9 million is pledges to an expansion campaign that was announced in 2007; an additional $840,000 is the value of capital improvements already done or in progress on the theater's current leased facilities.
The expansion campaign envisioned a 300- to 400-seat theater, designed pro bono by Frank Gehry, to go with the 1925-vintage, 684-seat main stage and the 86-seat Carrie Hamilton Theatre. A bundle of promised money was forthcoming for what Gehry might create, but what was lacking, literally, was money to keep the lights on.
How well the company's attempt at a fresh start turns out will probably depend first on donors' enthusiasm for the less glamorous business of making sure that ordinary bills get paid -- and then on audiences' appetite for the shows those hypothetical backers bankroll.
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-- Mike Boehm
Photo: The audience awaits a performance of "Camelot," the last pre-bankruptcy production at the Pasadena Playhouse. Credit: Stefano Paltera / For The Times.