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Cabrillo Music Theatre in Thousand Oaks faces uncertain future

Cabrillo Music Theatre sets $250,000 fundraising goal; otherwise, season may be canceled

The Cabrillo Music Theatre in Thousand Oaks is facing an uncertain future if it fails to meet a short-term fundraising goal in two weeks' time.

Company leaders are looking to raise a total of $250,000 by early August through individual donations and a series of benefits in Los Angeles and New York.

If the goal isn't met, the Cabrillo will consider canceling its already announced 2014-15 seaon, which is scheduled to begin in November at the company's home at the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza.

Lewis Wilkenfeld, the company's artistic director, said in an interview that the theater is aiming to raise 80% of the goal by Aug. 1, with the remainder to be raised through benefit concerts and other fundraising events.

Wilkenfield said the company recently recovered from $300,000 of debt but is contending with a shortfall in fundraising and continued weakness in season subscriptions. He also said rent for its theater space is rising.

"It didn't feel responsible going forward," he said, explaining the need for the fundraising that began in late May. So far, the campaign has raised approximately $150,000.

Founded in the '60s by a group of actors, the Cabrillo Music Theatre produces Broadway-style shows at the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza. Wilkenfield said the operating budget is around $1.6 million per year to produce a few shows each season.

Recent productions include "Grease," "The Producers" and the current "Bye Bye Birdie." The company's acting alumni include actress Amanda Bynes and singer Adam Lambert.

Wilkenfeld said that the company has relied too heavily on ticket sales in the past. He said the money from the current campaign would help to hire a director of development who would oversee fundraising efforts.

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