Save Center Stage Playhouse

Center Stage Playhouse has been providing quality theater productions in the Bronx for over 40 years, but it might be presenting its final Main Stage production for a while. The future of the theater company is in jeopardy. Like so many other troupes across the country, it is struggling with space issues, audience development challenges, but most urgently the need for a solid, consistent base of creative and energetic volunteers who can step in and alleviate some of the workload from the Board of Directors who have done an exceptional job during this transition year, but have understandably pushed themselves to the max. There's just so much a few passionate people can do. Without a strong network of supporting players, it's just not sustainable, and the remaining leaders run the risk of burnout (if they haven't already reached that point.)

It would be a shame to see Center Stage Playhouse disappear. It's current production, 1959 Pink Thunderbird Convertible by James McLure, is a fine example of the topnotch theatrical entertainment that Center Stage has consistently presented year after year. I saw it opening night and it was an extremely entertaining evening. Carolyn Fuchs, Holland Renton, and Michelle Brandt starred in the touching and funny first part, "Laundry and Bourbon," deftly directed by Ed Friedman. Tal Aviezer, Peter Lillo, and Ed Walsh brought the audience to riotous laughter in the second part, "Lone Star," exquisitely directed by Lisa Spielman. There is no finer praise than to say that although they are all friends of mine and people I have had the pleasure of seeing and working with before, they managed to make me believe the characters they were portraying, transporting me to Maynard, Texas, for a couple of hours.

If this is the last big play by Center Stage in a while, it is going out with a bang, because it's a terrific production that will leave a strong impression with its audience. It runs through this weekend at Mercy College's Bronx campus at 1200 Waters Place in the French Family Auditorium.

Here is the important notice from Center Stage's president. Let's all do what we can, even if it's just spreading the word, to keep this wonderful, beloved theater company going strong for decades to come.

CSP Logo
The Future of Center Stage Playhouse

On May 15, 2012 the Board of Directors of Center Stage Playhouse held a meeting of the membership and CSP supporters to discuss the current challenges facing Center Stage Playhouse.  For those of you who could not attend and are interested in the future of this 40 year old organization, the Board would like to re-cap the discussion and the decisions we have made to help steer this organization through this critical juncture.

When we began the 2011-2012 season, it was our intention to produce the season in Foster Hall while looking for future performance space.  We were forced to make an unexpected move before the season began and thankfully Mercy College graciously donated the use of their facilities.  We have managed to produce a full season, but not without a lot of amending.  Further, the move and challenges we have faced this season have highlighted the need to address, with all our focus and energy, the challenges we face instead of putting them on the back burner while we produce shows.  It takes all of our available resources to plan and produce a season.  As a result, we have no resources available to dedicate toward solving fundamental problems that are undermining the stability and success of the organization.

The CSP Board has voted that due to the situation CSP currently finds itself, the focus for 2012-2013 should be placed on resolving the following issues:

  1. Examining the effectiveness of the Organization's operating model.  We have made productive changes to the structure of the Board and the management of the theater.  However, the membership based model of community theater may not be best suited for today's world.  It may be necessary to re-organize and re-structure the operating model and bi-laws in order to make CSP operationally effective in today's environment.   
  2. CSP has endured a shrinking audience and volunteer base for many years.  The last several years, CSP has been productive in recruiting several new faces as volunteers and new audience.  However, not at the levels necessary to effectively sustain a three show season and second stage programming.  CSP needs to grow both the audience and volunteer pool.
  3. Finding an enduring home that meets the needs of CSP. 
  4. CSP lacks a depth of leadership.  We rely on our Board to not only oversee the general functioning of the organization, but also to produce three shows a year.  Many hands make light work, however there is lack of knowledgeable and experienced individuals ready to serve on the Board. 
To address these issues successfully, the Board has voted in the following measures for the 2012-2013 season:
  1. There will be no general election for a new Board.  In order to address the issues outlined above, those most knowledgeable of the situation facing CSP should remain in leadership positions.  Therefore the 2011-2012 Board of Directors will remain seated*.
  2. The Board will be charged with organizing and chairing a committee comprised of CSP supporters, volunteers and members.  This committee will examine the issues outlined above and formulate an action plan to address said issues.
  3. If the committee is unable to formulate a viable plan of action by January 2013, then CSP will look to close down the organization legally and permanently.
The first organizational meeting of the CSP Future Committee will be held on July 11th at 7:30 pm.  (Location to be determined.)  We hope that you will join us.  All are welcome.  If you have any spare time to donate to this cause, CSP needs you.  More than money, the future success of Center Stage Playhouse is dependent on its volunteers, members and supports.

If you have any questions or would like to be involved but can not attend the meeting, please get in touch with the Board:

On behalf of the Center Stage Playhouse Board of Directors,
Holland Renton
President and Managing Director

*2012-2013 Board of Directors remains as Ida Longarino, Howard Brundage, Henry J Sbrocco, and Elliott Robinson.  Holland Renton, Tal Aviezer and Brad Crownover have resigned effective July 1 2012. 


Lisa said…
Nick - thanks for posting this, it would be heartbreaking to lose another community theater group. And thanks too for the kind words about "Lone Star".
The formatting cuts off the right side of Holland's statement, can you link to the full text or re-format it?
Nick said…
Thanks, Lisa. I've been posting my blog entries from my netbook the past week while my main computer is being repaired, and my formatting has been all screwy. I've also posted this on Open Salon where it seems to look better. Here's the link: