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Dinner Is No Longer Served: Theater That Built Careers Is Gone

Dinner Is No Longer Served: Theater That Built Careers Is Gone
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Dinner Is No Longer Served: Theater That Built Careers Is Gone

Dinner Is No Longer Served: Theater That Constructed Careers Is Gone

Collectively along with his good friend Robert J. Funking, a chef, he constructed An Night Dinner Theater — later renamed the Westchester Broadway Theater — an establishment that may not simply survive, however thrive, using hundreds of actors, waiters, stagehands and producers throughout greater than 200 musicals and performs, producing as a lot as $8 million in annual income.

It turned the longest-running year-round theater in New York to make use of members of Actors’ Fairness Affiliation, the labor union that represents 51,000 theater actors and stage managers. Rob Marshall, who went on to direct the Oscar-winning movie adaptation of “Chicago,” labored there. So did Estelle Harris (“Seinfeld”) and Will Swenson (“Hair”). Nights with out reveals featured comedians like Wanda Sykes and Lewis Black early of their careers.

However then got here a pandemic — and a state-mandated closure in March. In a word to clients asserting the preliminary shutdown, Funking and Stutler promised ticketholders a credit score for a future efficiency and a free drink, anticipating a time when “collectively we’ll all toast a return to normalcy.”

But it surely turned clear that normalcy wouldn’t return any time quickly.

“We can’t be a worthwhile enterprise whereas being closed and it seems dim for any stay theater to be open for the foreseeable future,” the three homeowners, Stutler, Funking and Stutler’s spouse, Von Ann, wrote in a Nov. 3 electronic mail to patrons asserting the everlasting closing.

Dinner theaters can be among the many final venues to reopen, they reasoned. With their landlord, Robert Martin Firm, unwilling to postpone funds on their lease and staff who had not been paid since March, they mentioned they’d no selection however to hold it up.

All three homeowners declined to be interviewed; Funking retired in January. A spokesman for Robert Martin Firm, which took over the theater’s lease a few yr in the past, mentioned the venue’s monetary struggles predated the pandemic.

In accordance with Pia Haas, the theater’s former director of press and public relations, Stutler had already been trying to find a successor, and had a proposal from Todd Gershwin, the Broadway producer and great-nephew of George and Ira Gershwin. (Haas supplied details about the theater’s historical past, however mentioned she was not talking on the homeowners’ behalf.)

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