Broward Stage Door Theatre shuts down after 25 years in South Florida

Broward Stage Door Theatre, the long-running company beloved for its stagings of Broadway musicals and Neil Simon comedies, has lowered its curtains after 25 years in Broward County, a spokesperson for the theater confirmed on Friday.

On Thursday, Stage Door scrapped the three remaining performances of its current musical, “My One and Only,” slated to run through March 24 at the Lauderhill Performing Arts Center. In a message posted on Stage Door’s website, the theater’s executive producer and co-founder, Derelle Bunn, wrote that all shows scheduled March 22-24 had been canceled.

“We regret to inform you that the remaining performances of MY ONE AND ONLY on March 22nd, 23rd & 24th are canceled,” begins the message, which was also re-posted on the theater’s Facebook page. “We were recently faced with extraordinary ticket refunds due to the unexpected cancellation caused by a cast member illness on March 10th followed by a late curtain call on Sunday March 17th. This has created a financial burden upon the Stage Door that prevents us from bringing to you the remaining shows this weekend. Ticket sales cover less than 50% of our operational costs.”

The closing of Broward Stage Door Theatre leaves a deep void in the South Florida theater community, says Mark Traverso, board president of Slow Burn Theatre Company, which stages productions at Fort Lauderdale’s Broward Center for the Performing Arts.

“[Broward Stage Door] paved the way for a lot of local theater companies, and they staged a lot of great performances,” Traverso says. “I know from working for other theater companies that it’s really tough to keep asking for money year in and year out.”

Problems began mounting for Broward Stage Door on March 10, when a lead actor for “My One and Only” became ill, says Amanda Segur, general manager of Lauderhill Performing Arts Center. The performance was canceled – while the audience was already seated in the theater. Audiences received refunds for the show. Then, on March 17, “My One and Only” began an hour late, prompting some ticket-buyers to leave. Stage Door refunded that show as well.

Broward Stage Door, already struggling financially this season, didn’t “have enough financial support to finish its run of shows” after refunding customers, Segur says. But she was caught surprised when Bunn announced on Thursday that Broward Stage Door was shutting down.

“It’s been a pretty hectic 24 hours,” Segur says. “We didn’t know it was coming. We really wanted to see the season continue because there’s a drive in the audience base to see Broadway performances in Lauderhill, but [Stage Door’s] financial difficulties forced them to close and file for bankruptcy.”