Arts and Entertainment

'Time out' for Centerstage

Mirror staff

Centerstage Theatre, which has canceled a production in order to focus on fund-raising, has received a challenge grant to help preserve the professional theater group.

Under terms of the grant, contributions received through Sept. 30 will be matched –– up to a total of $10,000 –– by an anonymous donor.

Fifteen percent of the goal has been raised, and a murder mystery fund-raiser Sept. 24 at Twin Lakes Golf and Country Club will help with the balance, Centerstage officials said. Tickets are on sale.

When Centerstage began producing shows at Knutzen Family Theater in 1999, the company had a major source of financial backing. That source no longer exists, so the board of trustees is reworking Centerstage organizationally.

“The very good news is that we are not, and have never been, in debt,” said Alan Bryce, managing artistic director. “This company has always operated in the black, and we shall continue to do so.”

However, the fall production of “Nunsense” has been shelved while Centerstage marshals resources for a different show later this year.

“We need to take a time out, to update our business plan and to enhance and expand our board,” said Polly Oliver, board president. “We also intend to create an advisory board. This organization needs dynamic and generous leadership to guarantee its long-term viability.”

Centerstage plans to resume production in November with the Charles Dickens classic, “A Christmas Carol.” Plans for 2005 will be announced then, officials said.

The cancellation of “Nunsense” has Centerstage officials worried about the reaction of the company’s supporters.

“There are some wrinkles that will have to be ironed out,” said Bryce. “With all the changes this year, some of our season ticket holders may be understandably confused. I will call every one of our subscribers to explain the situation.”

He said Centerstage ended its spring season on a high note, with the production of “Sleuth” exceeding projected revenues.

The donor of the challenge grant requested that any information about them, including where they’re from or any other involvement with the theater, be kept confidential, said Centerstage spokeswoman Laura Campbell.

Centerstage has operated since 1977.

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