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SAN DIEGO -- Lyric at the Birch, which has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection to reorganize, has now canceled the remainder of its season.
On Oct. 17, the company announced that the concert event "Good Bye, Good Luck and Get Out!” scheduled for Nov. 4 and 6 would not be staged. Now, two other scheduled shows, "Die Fledermaus" in February 2012 and "The Mikado" in March 2012, have been shelved.
Also last month, Lyric released most of its full- and part‐time employees, including General Director Leon Natker and Artistic Director J. Sherwood Montgomery. A small crew of essential employees who operate the theater venue remained on the job, since the Birch North Park Theatre is rented out to other organizations, including FilmOut San Diego.
“While the cast and crew were predominantly, if not all, volunteer, we would not be able to pay musicians. With our General Director and Artistic Director self‐furloughed to help our financial situation, there just is not sufficient time to create and produce a performance event that would be of the caliber we would consider equal to our past productions and reputation. Therefore, we elected not to move forward with this particular event,” said Roberto Cueva, MD, president of the Lyric board of directors.
Cueva said the bankruptcy filing made it impossible to continue productions until the reorganization was approved by the judge.
“A review of the current ticket sales indicates that the audience would be mainly limited to season subscription patrons. While we gratefully appreciate the support of our loyal subscriber audience, given the current state of economy and the relative lack of non‐subscription ticket purchasers, we forecast that we will not be able to produce these shows without incurring substantial losses. While our recent productions were hailed by theater critics, the audience capacity consisted of subscription tickets with the balance of sales coming from significantly discounted tickets. As we are already in Chapter 11, we cannot mount any productions that will result in a loss,” Cueva said.
Lyric will now establish a program for the disposition of paid subscription tickets, said Alex Tiscareno, board secretary.
Additionally, the company is formulating a new strategy to provide a new brand of entertainment array for the historic Birch North Park Theatre, which it also owns.
“While it is a bit premature to discuss the details, we are thrilled about this new business model and know the community will be excited about what will be appearing on our stage,” Tiscareno said.
The Birch North Park Theatre has been for sale for months, but no potential buyers have been identified. While the Lyric is not upside-down on the mortgage, company officials have said that the mortgage payments are the single biggest challenge for the bottom line.