Thursday, July 11, 2013

What Happened to Cabaret

On Tuesday, we reported that the production of Cabaret to be staged at the Pocketbook Factory had been abruptly canceled. Late Wednesday night, Gossips received this letter from Mary Andrews, managing director of Theatre Now New York, explaining the circumstances that led to the cancellation. Gossips publishes the letter at her request.   
To all of my new friends in Hudson,
After much thought and consideration, I made the decision to withdraw my financial support for Theatre Now New York's production of Cabaret. I was the sole investor of the show and had put up a significant sum of money that was essential for the pre-production expenses, including costumes, materials to build the set, lighting rental, sound rental, promotional materials, housing, piano rental, misc. items etc. Theatre Now is a year-old company without infrastructure, without funders, without a solid board of directors, and without enough people to do all of the things necessary to mount a production. My decision to go forward and fund the show was done out of a belief that everything could be accomplished, but a sequence of events led me to the decision that going forward would have been disastrous.
As most of you know, Eleanor Ambos owns the Pocketbook Factory. She is both wonderful and capricious. My first meeting with her was delightful, pleasant, and she was excited and enthusiastic about the plan to use the PBF as a venue for a musical. Throughout my initial and subsequent meetings with her, such statements as "Think of me as your partner . . . ," "Mary, call me, you're not bothering me . . . ," "I love to help you . . ." led me to believe that I had certainly assessed her intentions correctly. There was no contract, but the handshake seemed more than fine because this was a woman you could trust.
At the beginning, Eleanor and her assistant, Tom Taylor, were involved and happy to help us. My phone calls were promptly returned, and both seemed to enjoy being involved. Bathrooms on the second and third floors were being installed, work had begun, and the deadline for completion would be the first rehearsal on July 16, 2013. And then cracks in the veneer began. The bathrooms would not be finished until opening night. Actors, staff, interns, and the guests invited for the "meet and greet" would have to use third world toilets in the basement of a building adjacent to the Pocketbook Factory where dirt floors and the smell of rot and decay would assault them. The enthusiasm of Eleanor and Tom became less, and I was told in effect to stop calling--that Eleanor had done enough by letting us use the PBF with a deferred payment agreement. The housing piece was a draconian task as most of Hudson knows. To her credit, Eleanor did come through with housing at the Elks [601 Union Street] and also at her private home in Philmont. There was still the issue of finding beds as the Hudson Community Board Facebook page can attest.
The final straws were a necessary capital improvement to install a breaker system essential to prevent any possible electrical fires that Eleanor would not pay for and which would have cost Theatre Now $600 to $700. Secondly, ticket sales were very low, and many promotional aspects were not done because there were simply not enough people to do all the work. I also felt I was not getting the support I needed as new managing director. After much thinking and a sleepless night, I decided to pull my investment because I was sufficiently worried that we wouldn't be ready to open, actors would not be paid, conditions for rehearsal would be hideous, and patrons would swelter in the blistering heat of the third floor without adequate cooling. I also feared that the the show would go over budget.
Sitting here at my kitchen table back in NYC, I wonder about my decision to finance the show. Should I have said "no" in the beginning thereby giving the company a chance to establish itself through small events? Maybe. But I would have missed out on so many wonderful experiences--spending two months in Hudson meeting terrific people, meeting with the Mayor (thanks Bill), interviewed by the Register-Star (thanks Joe), invited to speak on the radio (thanks Ellen), meeting the wonderful waiters at Mexican Radio (Pat, AJ, Andrew, Pete, Becky, et al), the lovely owner of Rev (thanks Jerry), finding Red Dot (thanks Alana), being the recipient of the kindness of those who opened their homes (thanks Ruth, Bonnie, Nancy, Harry, Lydia, John, and Eleanor), assisted with costumes and any other possible needs by the Second Hand Show (thanks Bobbi), donated space at HOH (thanks Gary), and the chance to be published (thanks Carole). In the end, I lost little of my investment but gained a whole lot in Hudson and my life is richer as a result. Look for me on Warren Street.  I'll be back.  
With warmest regards,
Mary Andrews, formerly of Theatre Now New York and presently her own woman with all possibilities waiting

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