The Playgoer: MTC woes, continued

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Tuesday, November 28, 2006

MTC woes, continued

Buried midway through Michael Riedel's last column was this update--and confirmation--that Manhattan Theatre Club is scrambling to salvage its Biltmore Theatre financial fiasco:

Manhattan Theater Club, one of New York's premiere non-profit theaters, is going through a financial crunch, according to several theater sources. To ease matters, the company is considering selling the name of its flagship Biltmore Theatre to the highest corporate bidder. Word is that Pepsi-Cola may grab the naming rights. The Roundabout Theatre Co. did this a few years ago, thus its flagship theater in Times Square is called the American Airlines. Next door is the Hilton Theatre. A few blocks north is the Cadillac Winter Garden.

All of which brings to mind the late producer Alex Cohen's prediction that one day Broadway will see "The Campbell's Pork 'n' Bean Palace."

I suppose now that we've gotten used to "American Airlines Theatre," then Pepsi Cola won't make much difference.

Personally I think they should just rent out the joint. I suppose the nonprofit status limits who they could let in there...But why not open it up to other nonprofits--with actually successful shows--looking to transfer? In the scramble for available Great White Way real estate, a nonprofit-originated project like Grey Gardens or Spring Awakening could have really benefitted from the relatively small Biltmore space (650 seats) at possibly reduced not-for-profit prices? Yes, that would mean sharing the credit, glory, and income with other companies. But can that be any worse for them than the 45% capacity for Losing Louie?

(Am I the only one wondering why they didn't open the Biltmore season with the Paul Rudnick play (Regrets Only) instead? Sure that didn't get great reviews either--but it has an actual star in Christine Baranski and Paul Rudnick makes people laugh. Unlike Losing Louie.)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The "Pepsico Festival" (or some such name) up at SUNY-Purchase in the 80s brought some great work here -- along the lines of BAM these days. (Giorgio Strehler's amazing Tempest, for one -- not to compare to the disaster from Montreal that BAM just presented.) So while I cringe at the "Campbell's Pork 'n Bean Palace" as much as the next guy, at least I have some fond theater-associated vibes around Pepsi. (Not that I ever drink the stuff.)