Regional Reviews: Florida - Southern
The Caldwell Theatre
Caldwell Theatre Company Artistic Director Clive Cholerton announced two weeks ago that their scheduled April 15th opening of the world premiere of Christopher Demos-Brown's Our Lady of Allapattah was to be postponed. It has since been announced that the play, which was to be the last production in their current season, has been cancelled due to financial concerns.
Arrangements have been made for Caldwell Theatre patrons holding either tickets to the current season or the individual show to redeem them at the Palm Beach Dramaworks for their productions of the David Auburn play Proof scheduled May 25 - June 17, or the Schmidt and Jones musical The Fantasticks scheduled July 13 - August 5. "As much as we wanted to personally honor our ticket holders, it simply wasn't feasible," Cholerton wrote in a news release. "We continue to explore all of our options and will make a formal announcement when all the facts have been addressed. We are incredibly appreciative of the generosity of Bill Hayes and Sue Ellen Beryl of Palm Beach Dramaworks and trust that ticket holders will feel they have been provided adequate consideration for purchase".
Founded in 1975 by Artistic Director Michael Hall and the late Frank Bennett, and named for Rubbermaid Corporation founder James R. Caldwell, the Caldwell Theatre Company is the longest running regional theater in South Florida. Since 1975, the Caldwell Theatre Company has entertained more than 50,000 patrons annually with a variety of classics, revivals, small musicals, and original plays. The company sponsors a Play Reading Series to introduce new works and a Professional Adult Storytelling Series. Ursula Kalt and Eta Schaffer co-chair Caldwell's volunteer Friends of Caldwell; Rich Kasser is head of PACT, a group of young business professionals created to advance the Caldwell; and Clive Cholerton is Chairman of the Board. The theatre has been in three different locations over the years before finding it's current home at the new 333-seat proscenium theater facility, the Count de Hoernle Theatre, at 7901 N. Federal Highway in Boca Raton, FL.
Legacy bank, which owns $5.9 million in mortgages on the Caldwell, filed foreclosure proceedings on February 9th due to several months of non-payment. Legacy filed a motion for default April 5, with a hearing slated for April 24, 2012. The Caldwell is currently working with Scott Brenner, a receiver appointed by the Palm Beach County Court, to control the company's expenditures and protect their assets. "The receiver structure established by the state court was agreed to by the Caldwell as a way to sidestep the previously announced plans to file for Chapter 11 protection in federal bankruptcy court, buying time to restructure the debt and continue operations", said Donald Walters, a Coral Springs attorney representing the Caldwell in the foreclosure case. Protecting the theatre's assets includes continuing generate revenue through activities such as renting the theater to outside clients, and Brenner said "the phone has been ringing from a number of people who may be interested in renting the facility".
Some additional concerns surround the fact that the Caldwell dipped into its bond with Actors Equity Association to pay the cast of their last show, Working, for the final week of their run. Paying anything out of that bond cancels the AEA bond for the rest of the season, and prohibits the union from approving the issuance of future contracts. The theater can buy a new bond only if it first satisfies any outstanding money owed to the union's pension, health, membership and vacation funds.
The Caldwell Theatre has been called South Florida's "Cinderella Theatre" and Boca Raton's "Jewel in the Crown." Despite the financial issues at hand, Cholerton remains open about the possible future of the Caldwell Theatre as they continue to make plan for the 2012-2013 season. "Every option is on the table" he said.