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The Colony sets the stage for another act

August 09, 2013|By Steve Appleford, steve.appleford@latimes.com
  • Barbara Buckley, The Artist Director of Colony Theatre in Burbank has announced a new season, on Wednesday, July 31, 2013.
Barbara Buckley, The Artist Director of Colony Theatre… (Photo by Ross A.…)

For many months, local theater-goers have been in a state of suspense in regards to one local institution: the financially troubled Colony Theatre in Burbank. Despite a hit show in the form of “Falling for Make Believe,” a musical about the life of lyricist Lorenz Hart, the 38-year-old theater was unable to announce a new 2013-2014 season because the future was so uncertain.

That all changed last month with the announcement of a new season and a grant from the Marilyn P. & Wayne H. Kohl Memorial Fund. The amount of the gift was undisclosed, but it was enough to not only make a new season possible, but to allow the Colony to begin rebuilding its infrastructure, including new staff positions.

The season will include a production of the venerable medieval drama “The Lion In Winter,” opening April 19 with Mariette Hartley, returning again to the Colony after starring in last fall’s “The Morini Strad.” Up first is the musical “Breath and Imagination: The Story of Roland Hayes,” by Daniel Beaty, opening Sept. 14.

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With a mixture of excitement and relief, Colony artistic director Barbara Beckley spoke with Marquee about the theater’s comeback from the financial brink and what made it possible.

Marquee: You recently announced a new season, which is news by itself.

Barbara Beckley: We’re very excited about it. We’ve announced the season and now we’re pulling together all the promotional stuff and the cast and everything for the first show. We’re also going to be hiring a marketing person and a development person, and take a real hard look at our business model so we don’t get into that situation again.

So it’s not just a matter of putting on more shows, but rebuilding.

That was always what we knew we had to do, and when we first announced last October that we were in trouble and put the figure at $500,00 for what we needed to raise, that included restructuring of the organization so we could hire the people we need to get us on sound financial footing. We’re rethinking the way our organization works, looking at 21st century models as opposed to the professional regional theater model that has been around for 50 years.

Was that part of the problem?

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