The Westchester Broadway Theatre in Elmsford will close its doors after 45 years of business due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“It is with a great sadness that we say goodbye. We wish you much good will in the future. We will miss you!” said Bob Funking, Bill and Von Ann Stutler, founders of the Westchester Broadway Theatre, in a letter to employees. “The work that WBT has done over the years has been truly historic and will go down in history, not only in Westchester, but in the theatre industry.”
The founders of New York’s longest running Equity theatre, which produced 217 musicals, hosted numerous concerts, benefits and fundraisers, employed 5,000 theatre professionals and entertained more than six million customers, stated they had determined there was no way to reopen when the ban in New York is lifted on live theatre.
“Dinner-theatre, because of social distancing requirements, will be the last entertainment category to be given permission. Our landlord does not want to continue supporting our lease,” they stated.
The founders noted the interior of the theatre will be destroyed and the building will be turned into a warehouse.
Westchester residents will still have a professional Equity theatre in their backyard to attend when restrictions are lifted. The White Plains Performing Arts Center, which is located in downtown White Plains, has used this down-time to make many new renovations to accommodate the “new world of theatre” with air purification systems, advanced cleaning solutions and social distancing procedures.
“As someone who grew up seeing and working on shows at WBT, it’s with a heavy heart that we say goodbye to our colleague. The work they have done over the years was remarkable,” stated Stephen Ferri, White Plains PAC’s executive producer. “When we heard of this news, we knew we had to do something to not only honor their legacy but also make sure we keep professional theatre alive in Westchester. We are honored to have the torch passed to us at White Plains PAC to take on that task!”
White Plains PAC has offered to try assisting affected WBT ticket holders by honoring outstanding tickets and gift cards for a future WPPAC show. Eligible patrons will be contacted in the coming weeks with details about the exchange program.