East Bay Losing Beloved Theatre

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    NEWSLETTERS

    ASSOCIATED PRESS

    Concord's Willows Theatre will close at the end of the month due  to financial difficulties, the theatre's artistic director announced this week.

    "It is with enormous regret, reluctance and emotion that we have  been forced to make this painful decision," artistic director Richard Elliott  said in a statement.
         
    Elliott said private donations and fundraisers were unable to  raise the necessary $350,000 by Nov. 1.

    The Willows Theatre opened in 1977 and has since presented more  than 200 productions.

    The theater's last production is the comedy "Barefoot in the  Park," closing Nov. 8.

    The Willows Theatre Company will continue to operate the Willows Cabaret at the Campbell Theatre in Martinez and has planned improvements to  that venue.

     Charles Lewis, the theatre company's board president, attributed  the closure to higher costs, increasing debt, a decline in patronage and the  economic recession.

    "These factors left us no choice but to sharply reduce our expenses," Lewis said.

    "In the end, the reality is that we could no longer operate two theaters and conduct business as usual," he said.

    Bay City News