LA MIRADA : Council Gives Ailing Playhouse a Reprieve

The City Council will allow the financially strapped La Mirada Playhouse to continue using the city's Theatre for the Performing Arts this season.

The council acted last week after the playhouse's manager handed over a $14,000 check to pay some of the back rent owed to the city. "I feel like we have been given a reprieve," said Yolanda Robinson, the general manager.

The council was considering evicting the playhouse, City Manager Gary Sloan said.

Robinson said she cut her salary from $18,000 to $12,000, and tightened the budget for sets. Paid directors and designers also offered to work for free.

But the playhouse still owes $16,000, and the debt could approach $60,000 before the season ends in June, said Richard D. Patton, city finance director. The playhouse pays about $15,000 rent for each production, which includes rehearsal time and use of the city's lighting, sound and technical crew.

The community theater group usually produces about four Broadway-style shows a season. The group has three shows remaining this season.

Robinson said the playhouse hopes to get out of the red by cutting costs and stepping up fund raising, marketing and advertising. The playhouse's financial problems have been attributed to sagging ticket sales. Season ticket sales dropped from about $186,000 in 1990 to $126,000 for the 1994-95 season, Robinson said.

Robinson will retire at season's end, and will be replaced by two volunteers. She said she is resigning after 33 years because she wants time to write, paint and pursue other artistic endeavors.

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