Wayside board plans frank talk on future
Posted: February 7, 2013
The Winchester Star
MIDDLETOWN — Officials with the struggling Wayside Theatre in Middletown will answer the public’s questions regarding the challenges they face in a town hall-style meeting later this month.
Byron Brill, the theater board’s president, and Warner Crocker, its artistic director, hope to inform the public of the cash-strapped theater’s plans for the future, according to a news release issued Wednesday.
Officials announced in early January that they needed to raise $90,000 within 90 days for the theater to remain open. Fundraising efforts so far have brought in $38,137.26, according to Crocker.
The theater was in dire financial straits in 2011 as well, when 700 individuals donated $106,000 to keep the venue open, according to a previous story in The Winchester Star.
The town hall is scheduled to start informally in the Curtain Call Cafe — adjacent to the theater — at 6:30 p.m. on Feb. 20, before moving to the auditorium for a brief presentation and question-and-answer session at 7 p.m. The Wayside Theatre is located at 7853 Main St. in Middletown.
“The town hall is not so much about what we hope to get from it [financially], but it is an opportunity for others to get answers to questions directly from board members and myself,” Crocker wrote in an email Wednesday. “We’ve had a number of requests for this kind of thing from some supporters and have taken those to heart. The conversations we’ve had so far have been beneficial to the larger goals, and we hope that by extending these conversations to those who have interest or questions we can continue moving forward on our goals.”
Brill could not be reached for comment Wednesday afternoon.
The theater has been hurt by a poor winter season, below expected fundraising numbers in 2012 and the inability to host bus tours (for dinner/show packages) since the Wayside Inn no longer operates a restaurant.
Middletown Mayor Charles Harbaugh IV previously told The Star that the theater’s closing would mean less revenue for the town since the Wayside is a tourist attraction.
“Smoke on the Mountain: Homecoming,” which runs through March 17, might be the theater’s final production.
Additional information on the Wayside Theatre is available online at waysidetheatre.org.
Frances Lowe of The Winchester Star contributed to this story.
— Contact Matt Armstrong at firstname.lastname@example.org