By Rosalind Bentley
After 30 years as one of metro Atlanta’s respected mid-sized theaters, Theatre in the Square in downtown Marietta closed for good on Monday.
In a sign of just how bad things had gotten for the theater, it was unable to finish the run of its current critically lauded show, Pearl Cleage’s “Flyin’ West.”
“After three days of board deliberations and financial analysis, we have decided that it is not feasible for us to finish our current season or launch a 31st season,” said theater board chair Mike Russell in a statement. “We simply do not have the money.”
Just last week the Marietta City Council granted the theater $30,000 during an emergency meeting. But even that wasn’t enough to keep the stage lit, Russell said, so the board declined the offer.
Last year the board launched a do-or-die campaign to raise $350,000 it said the theater needed to remain open. Artistic director Palmer Wells, who co-founded the theater with the late Michael Horne, said earlier this year they had exceeded that goal by about $25,000. But during a February board meeting Russell said the theater would need an additional $60,000 by March 16 to move forward. On top of that, the theater was trying to raise an additional $400,000 by the end of June to pay down its debt. Meanwhile, it trimmed staff, cut salaries and negotiated a reduction in rent from about $11,000 a month to just over $7,000 with landlord Philip Goldstein, a Marietta City Council member.
The theater mounted “Flyin’ West” March 7, hopeful enough cash could be raised to pay vendors and actors, Wells said in an interview last week. And the board succeeded in raising $83,000 by the March 16 deadline, but Russell said in the statement it wasn’t enough.
For people holding tickets to canceled shows, the theater is trying to come up with a ticket swap option with other local theater companies.
It will take a couple of weeks to shut down the operation entirely, Russell said, calling it a “heart-wrenching task.” But for now there is no other choice but for the house to go dark for good.