Theaters are important. They’re actually one of the most important factors when it comes to a theatre-going experience. While many may not realize the importance of this factor, for once, a spotlight is currently being shinned on it as a situation develops downtown. While the Lower East Side is known for its rough feel compared to the glowing Times Square region where most other theaters can be found, the producers of one show have decided that feel can stay outside or else. A groundbreaking Off-Broadway production is on the verge of moving as problems plaguing it’s space might finally amount to enough being enough. Today, Luner on Theatre brings you the news that Stomp will leave the East Village and move uptown!
Producers of the hit Off-Broadway show Stomp have officially announced they will leave the Lower East Side after 21 years. The decision comes following several requests from the producers to the owners of the theatre, the Orpheum, to maintain and fix several issues within the building that were not made. Manhattan’s Supreme Court Justice Jeffrey Oing officially ruled Stomp may break its contract with the company in order to move uptown into a new theatre. According to the producers, several issues currently plaguing the theatre include fixing the air conditioning, upgrading rest rooms and improving the carpets. Lawyers for the venue have argued the theatre is in the process of making repairs and that Stomp should allow time before departing. Many are worried about the venue’s fate without the hit show.
In a statement to the press, a representative for the production released the following statement:
“Stomp did not want to move [but] it smells like sewage” in the lobby, Glenn Spiegel, the show’s lawyers said, according to court papers. As much as Stomp values its time in the East Village, the fact remains that the show needs a safe and properly maintained space for its audience, staff and cast. Perhaps the question really should be directed to Liberty Theatres as to whether they have abandoned the neighborhood by neglecting the building, despite repeated requests by Stomp to make necessary repairs.”
Liberty Theatres, the owner of the Orpheum Theatre, have released the following statement to counter:
“After a successful 21-year relationship with The Stomp Company, they informed us that they are seeking to breach their license agreement with Liberty Theatres on what can only be described as purely fabricated grounds. Our hope is that for the good of the production and all crew and cast members we are able to reach resolution swiftly so that Stomp can continue to entertain audiences in the theater it has called home since its very first show in 1994.”
However, it’s not that easy. Justice Oing has also reminded Stomp that they will need to pay $5,000 a week or 5% of its grosses to the Orpheum if it moves to a new Off-Broadway Theatre. However, Stomp‘s lawyers have ruled that will not apply if the show is moving due to the issues mentioned above. Justice Oing also argued in defense of the building and it’s owners but remarked they “could not hold them hostage forever”. Owners for the building have argued they took “a chance” on Stomp when it first came to America in 1994 and have helped it survive through financial tough times following the September 11th attacks and the 2008 recession keeping it alive until this current day. It is currently not clear how the case will play out.
Stomp is a musical created through physical performance making music using matchboxes, garbage cans, lids, brooms and other riff-raff collected off the streets of East Village. The show was originally created in and premiered in the United Kingdom in 1991. The production first came to America in 1994 debuting at the Orpheum in February 1994. In 1994, the show won the Obie Award and a Drama Desk Award for Most Unique Theatre Experience. The production surpassed 5,000 performances in 2006 and is currently celebrating its 21st anniversary in New York this season.
At this time, no official date has been set for when Stomp will end its run in the Lower East Side. There has also been no official announcement of the production moving uptown to a new theatre or when performances would begin there. So will it even happen? Only time will truly tell. I will say that if Stomp does not plan to move and this indeed was a major press stunt, it should be applauded. Theaters (the actual building) are so important when it comes to the theatre experience. They’re more important than most people realize. This is where your experience begins with a show. The owners of the Orpheum should move forward immediately to address the concerns Stomp has brought to them not only in hopes of this production staying where it is but in order to be prepared for life beyond Stomp. A working, safe theatre that honors its history and past while working towards only providing the best for its patrons and clients is the only acceptable theatre New Yorker’s should ever accept.
Will Stomp stay or go? Only time will tell as the saga continues downtown and New York watches as one of the most iconic Off-Broadway productions decides what its future will look like. No matter what happens, I hope to see Stomp continue and the Orpheum Theatre improve its conditions in a best of both worlds situation. For more information, visit Stomp’s Official Website, Facebook Page or Twitter. And of course, check out the rest of Luner on Theatre for all your theatre news you don’t only need but want to know and so much more!
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