West Virginia Public Theatre (WVPT) has released its paid staff and cancelled its 21st annual holiday show for financial reasons.
“James and the Giant Peach” was slated to run Saturday, Nov. 28-Wednesday, Dec. 2, at the Metropolitan Theatre on High Street.
Ray Prendergast, WVPT board president through year’s end, said Executive Director Larry Mabrey and one other paid staffer were let go. No replacement has been chosen, and the office will be maintained by volunteers and board members in the interim.
“The Public Theatre is going through a difficult financial situation,” Prendergast said. “Things are OK. They are not great. We are taking the necessary steps to remain vital.”
Paul Kreider, incoming board president and dean of WVU’s College of Creative Arts, said WVPT’s outstanding debt totals about $200,000. The new board, as of Jan. 1, is eager to make the organization more sustainable in the future, Kreider said.
“The plan is basically right the ship, raise some money and produce a season that is less costly,” Kreider said.
He hopes to reduce production costs by expanding beyond musicals for WVPT’s summer season and partnering with WVU. The organization is also seeking a guarantor for a $75,000 line of credit from a local bank, so that lien can be paid off, and looking for new funding sources.