Cherry Lane Theatre Saved, Not for Sale, Under Half-New Management

08/26/2011 3:01 PM |

The historic Cherry Lane Theater. (Photo: Phillips St. Claire/NYPL)
  • The historic Cherry Lane Theatre. (Photo: Phillips St. Claire/NYPL)

Late last year Cherry Lane Theatre director Angelina Fiordellisi had us really worried when she announced plans to sell one of Downtown’s most scenic and largest non-commercial theaters, but she’s decided not to sell. In a press release yesterday she explained that an overwhelming show of support, and some serious belt-tightening, will enable the theater to pay off its quarter-million dollar deficit by January 2012.

In a statement regarding the 38 Commerce Street two-theater performance venue’s future, Fiordellisi said:

I received hundreds of phone calls and emails and visits from people who were concerned to hear that I was leaving and that the theater was for sale. And when those people started referring rentals to us, I was able to look ahead and feel more secure about the theater’s financial future. It made me feel like I was doing something essential in the community and that I belong here.

But it wasn’t just support from the local community that kept the company from selling its historic venue.

Reductions in staff and expenses, and outsourcing management of the venue to the Lucille Lortel Theatre
Foundation (of the same-named Christopher Street theater), has allowed Cherry Lane to streamline its operations. That, matched with a steady number of rentals—including, in October, Rattlestick Playwrights Theater‘s guaranteed seat-filler Asuncion, written by and starring Jesse Eisenberg—will enable the resident company to mount its first production since last summer’s Nunsense, the premiere of One Night, a commissioned play by Pulitzer-winner Charles Fuller, next year. This season marks the Cherry Lane’s 86th, making it by far the city’s longest-running Off Broadway theater.

(Photo: NYPL)