Tuesday, December 30, 2008

North Shore Music Theatre... Closing?

Horrible news. I love North Shore Music Theatre. I go to see one or two shows there a year, on average. They put on fantastic productions that are really top notch. The best show I've ever seen - and I've seen my fair share - was their production of Aida a few years back. I loved Singing in the Rain there - and their yearly showings of A Christmas Carol is a perennial favorite. Their theatre is absolutely unique, there's only two or three like it in the entire country, yet it really works and ensures that every seat in the house is a good seat.

It would be horrible for the community if NSMT is forced to close its doors. It sells out many of its shows; it's another case of debt that's hurting them, amid a bad climate. The debt didn't come from them making bad decisions as a nonprofit corporation, though: it came from a fire that caused millions upon millions of damage, only some of which was covered by insurance.
Operating since 1955, North Shore Music Theatre has evolved from a summer stock house into the largest nonprofit theater in New England, with 350,000 patrons annually. The theater has been recognized by the Boston Business Journal as the second-largest performing arts organization in the state based on audience size (after the Boston Symphony Orchestra and Boston Pops combined). It has received multiple Elliot Norton Awards and this season presented seven musicals, five children's shows, and several celebrity musical and comedy concerts, in addition to hosting a large educational program. This year, the company's annual budget was $13 million.
Can we really let this theatre go under? It's a huge part of Massachusetts and is absolutely irreplaceable. They're asking people to go to their website and donate funds - or, better yet, buy a ticket to their current show, Disney's High School Musical 2, which would be a fantastic post-Christmas present for any kid or teen. Youth tickets are just $25. If they sell out the show, they'll raise enough for the short term, to give them time to raise the rest over the long haul. But if you're not interested in the show, send them $100, 50 or 25 bucks. It's as worthy a cause as there is to be found.

This economy is a killer. We must protect our important institutions, nonprofits and favorite local stores by making sure we don't forget about them in our attempts to cut costs. Yes, our funds are low too, but we can't let them go out, because it wipes off years of hard work and success right off the books - and that's not always replaceable, at least not for decades.

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