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July 2, 2014 By:
Prince Music Theater to Close Its Doors
After staging a remarkable comeback from bankruptcy to boffo box office, the Prince Music Theater will be closing its doors at the end of November.
The closing was announced July 2 via a news release from the Prince, which made clear that the nonprofit institution would be unable to continue without the financial support and leadership of Herb Lotman, the theater’s chief fundraiser and chairman of its board. Lotman died in May at age 80.
Lotman and his wife, Karen, led the effort to revive the Prince after it had fallen into bankruptcy in 2010. The longtime philanthropist couple raised the money to return the former Midtown Theater back onto sound financial footing in January of last year. They brought in a full slate of programming to take advantage of the top-to-bottom restoration of the space, which included new seating, concessions and a high-definition 3-D movie projection system.
Among the offerings last season: a sold-out cabaret series, a live musical version of the cult film The Evil Dead and the 20th anniversary screening of Schindler’s List.
In addition to acting as chief rainmaker for the theater, Herb Lotman also served as its de facto president, according to family spokesman Stan Fronczkowski, who worked with him for 28 years at Lotman’s company, Keystone Foods.
“Herb was not only financially involved but he was operationally involved. He was there almost every day,” Fronczkowski said.
The news release stated that the Lotman family was not in a position to continue that same level of involvement, which made the closing inevitable. The theater needs to raise $1.6 million to produce a complete season — a number deemed unachievable by the board and Lotman’s widow.
“It is with tremendous sadness that we make this announcement today,” Karen Lotman said in a statement. “Herb and I poured our hearts and souls into the theater and loved watching it grow. More than 60,000 people visited this year, but we need a new champion and donor for the organization to move forward.”
The theater isn’t shutting its doors immediately — the Lotman family has agreed to keep the Prince operating until the end of November. Among the groups already slated to appear before then are the Philadelphia Film festival and the Curtis Opera.
According to Fronczkowski, the extended curtain call allows the Prince “to do this in an orderly fashion and give time for somebody to step forward” and assume operational control.
“Our intention is to pay all our bills,” he said. “We are not filing for bankruptcy.”
When asked about whether the search had begun to find an entity willing to take over the Prince, Fronczkowski replied: “We are looking at the press release as being outreach for that. We will entertain conversations with anyone willing to do this.”