Wish list for Egyptian a mile long
May 6, 2009
Edgy musicals, one-act dramas, playwright festivals, multimedia presentations and a renewed sense of outreach made the wish list at the Egyptian Theatre’s public meeting May 4.
"Call every First Nighter and ask for their support," suggested Diane Rinehart, a former Egyptian Theatre board member who currently sits on the Recreation, Arts and Parks Culture Tax committee. The RAP Tax subsidizes music, arts and entertainment in Summit County, including the Egyptian. "You have people who know and love the Egyptian. They just haven’t been called in a while. They want to help."
About 30 people attended Monday’s meeting. The crowd comprised former board members, patrons, ticket holders anxious about the future of the stage and public officials, including Park City Mayor Dana Williams.
Confronted with $150,000 in debt, expensive productions and slumping ticket sales, the board, under Jeff Groy, eliminated the theater’s executive director position in January and the artistic director position in March. Restructuring the theater’s economic and artistic model will allow the Egyptian to put on smaller shows with fewer dark nights and bring the community back en masse, he said.
A fundraiser, originally scheduled for May, has been postponed pending feedback, and patrons responded positively to the idea of canvassing and calling to raise money for the Egyptian.
Groy assured ticket holders that the theater will stage four musicals in the next year, the first being "High School Musical 2" in September. The cancellation of shows made financial sense for the theater, but it also prompted worry from people who had purchased seats based on the existing lineup. Waving tickets in the air, one season ticket holder bemoaned the lack of communication between the board and theatergoers. Board members assured that if patrons aren’t happy with the new calendar of shows, they can get a refund. The 2009-10 season will run from September to September, not from July to July as it has in years past.
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Main stage productions will be lower budget with fewer sets, smaller casts and shorter runs. Transitioning from a professional stage to one that puts on community shows won’t lessen the quality of productions, Groy said, but it does make sense for the Egyptian. Community theaters pay fewer royalties than their counterparts are choose from a wider selection, Groy explained.
"At this point, we’re only going to do shows that will at least break even," he said, even if few theatrical productions make money based on ticket sales alone.
Park City High School seniors Rebecca Sands and Allison Robbins encouraged the Egyptian to host high school musicals for weekend runs. Staging would be inexpensive and "High school kids don’t care about money," Robbins told the board. "They just want the experience."
Patrons responded enthusiastically to the idea of showing matinee and evening films at the Egyptian to attract crowds. One patron recommended a twice-a-day film chronicling the history of the Sundance Film Festival.