Crown Center's American Heartland Theatre, which opened April 1, 1987 - and just celebrated its 26th anniversary on Monday - plans to shut off the stagelights for good in August, according to a statement released Thursday afternoon.
For now, the shows go on. The theater, founded by Jim Assad, will finish its 26th season - everything that's booked and planned - and will close August 25 after the last performance of The Bikinis - A New Musical Beach Party. Its current production, Life Could Be a Dream, continues through April 21.
According to the theater publicist, Morgan Perry, an announcement was made to the staff today by Rick Brown, Crown Center's manager of marketing programs; Lilli Zarda, American Heartland's executive producer; and Crown Center.
The theater hosts 80,000-100,000 audience members each year and has 7,000 season ticket holders.
"It's devastating news on so many levels," says Sidonie Garrett, artistic director of the Heart of America Shakespeare Festival, who directed two comedies for AHT: Greater Tuna and Rose's Dilemma. "It diminishes all of us to lose a professional theater company that employs actors and is another venue for storytelling.
"We all lose," she says.