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Colony Theatre in Burbank faces dire budgetary shortfall

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The Colony Theatre in Burbank is facing the possibility of imminent closure if the company isn't able to resolve a budgetary shortfall, leaders announced over the weekend.

They said the 37-year-old company has run out of money and needs to raise $49,000 in the next two weeks and $500,000 by the end of the calendar year in order to remain open. The Colony, which produces contemporary and classic plays and musicals, operates a 268-seat theater in the Burbank Town Center mall. 

In the past two years, the Colony has seen a significant drop in attendance, which has been "the root of all these problems," said Trent Steelman, the company's executive director, in an interview.

He said single-ticket sales have fallen consistently since the company's 2011 production of "On Golden Pond." The company's subscriber base has also taken a hit, declining to about 3,000 subscribers from a high of 3,800 subscribers in 2008, according to the company.

Barbara Beckley, the artistic director of the Colony, said that the company has cut its budget by 17% in the most recent year. It has also laid off three employees, bringing the number of full-time staff down to three.

To help offset weak ticket sales, the Colony has reduced production cycles to four weeks per show, down from five weeks. Beckley and Steelman said that they have also deferred their salaries.

The company began its life in 1975 as a 99-seat theater in Silver Lake. It moved to its current location in Burbank in 2000. Beckley said the company leases the building from the city of Burbank, which in turn has a long-term lease from the Town Center.

The Colony sent an email on Saturday to members of the L.A. arts community appealing for support. The company said if it does not raise $49,000 within two weeks, it will have to cancel its next planned production, "The Morini Strad," by Willy Holtzman, which is set to begin performances on Nov. 14.

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