Off Broadway venue cites poor ticket sales

Stamford Theater Works, the Equity theater offering Off Broadway fare to its Connecticut auds, is bringing down the curtain after 20 years.

Steve Karp, the theater’s founder and producing director, cited declines in contributions, even as ticket sales and its subscription base of 1300 remained steady.

Last summer the theater postponed its staging of tuner “First Lady Suite,” and last week it canceled its second show of the season, “Almost, Maine.”

The theater, which performs in a 150-seat barn on the property of Sacred Heart Academy in Stamford, Conn., accumulated a $200,000 debt over the past five years. Ticket sale accounted for just half of its $600,000 annual budget.

Declining support from area corporations and the loss of several major donors through death and relocation led to the increase in its annual debt.

Karp didn’t blame the recent stock market plunge for the theater’s fiscal problems, but added it didn’t help in the search for emergency help.

A move for the company to a small theater space in the renovated Palace Theater in downtown Stamford was complicated with money woes at the Stamford Center for the Arts, which operates the Palace. The SCA declared bankruptcy in August.

Much of the STW’s programming was made up of plays that were vets of Off Broadway runs, including Richard Dresser’s “Rounding Third,” Lynn Nottage’s “Intimate Apparel” and Kenneth Lonergan’s “Lobby Hero.” In 1997 the org was given the Tom Killen Memorial Award for outstanding contribution to Connecticut legit, handed out by the Connecticut Critics’ Circle.

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