The Curtain Closes On Texas Repertory Theatre

The closure raises questions about the sustainability of live theater in the suburbs.


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Texas Repertory Theatre cast member in their production of Shadowlands.
Texas Repertory Theatre cast members in the 2012 production of Shadowlands.

Every summer, Texas Repertory Theatre's annual musical has been its big money maker. In the past, the 11-year-old company sold enough tickets to cover a couple months of its overhead costs.

But that didn't happen this year.

"The play made so little that basically, it sucked up any free cash that was around and left a little debt hanging out," says Bob Hughes, President of the Board of Trustees.

Earlier this week, they announced that the theater – located in northwest Harris County in the Willowbrook area – is closing its doors permanently.

It raises questions as to whether it's harder for suburban theaters to survive. It might be, says Jennifer Decker, co-founder of Mildred's Umbrella Theater Company. Even though her theater is inside the loop, she says money is always a problem for small theater companies like hers.

"Funding isn't there for the smaller groups," Decker explains. "The percentage that's taken up by the bigger groups is really high and we have to share the rest."

Hughes says the board explored alternatives to closing, but it was in vain.

"We think it's a loss for Houston and we know it's a loss for the Northwest area," he says. "We wish we could've done it, but somehow, we failed."

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