Pasadena Playhouse may reorganize under bankruptcy protection

Pasadena Playhouse
Pasadena Playhouse

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The curtain may rise again at the shuttered Pasadena Playhouse. The nonprofit theater plans to reorganize under bankruptcy protection.

Since February, the designated State Theater of California has been dark. Pasadena Playhouse trustees decided to cancel much of the current season and close the house in response to a $2 million budget shortfall.

The trustees and their attorneys have filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the hope of resuming live productions in future seasons. In a statement the company’s executive director, Stephen Eich, called the filing a necessary step to reorganize the Playhouse for the benefit of its creditors and audiences.

Earlier this year, theater officials said that the economic recession had sapped corporate donor support, and diminished the prospect of selling naming rights for the Pasadena Playhouse’s distinctive Spanish Colonial building. Earlier financial difficulties closed the theater for almost 20 years during the 1970s and 80s.

Actors such as Dustin Hoffman and Gene Hackman got their start at the stage and school. But early this year, with the debt mounting, 37 employees were laid off and an attorney was hired to take over finances.

The theater opened in 1925 and has been the state's official theater for 65 years.

The theater, which has filed for bankruptcy before, has been nicknamed the "Pasadena Poorhouse."

Wire services contributed to this report.