The Loring Theater closing down once again

Categories: Gimme News
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It's been a trying few years for the old theater space on Nicollet Ave. and 14th St., which wrapped up its run as the Music Box Theater and converted back to its original name, the Loring Theater, under new management last year. 

But as with the space's previous management, the new team, The Directors LLP, couldn't manage to turn a profit at the challenging location and will end their lease of the space on December 31.

Back in November, the theater began canceling shows and announced it was going into "austerity mode," but would remain open, but the management team must have changed its mind. 

In addition to hosting plays and variety shows, the theater space was home recently to the experimental-heavy Heliotrope festival, the reunion show by Prince's the Family (now fDeluxe), and shows by local rock bands ranging from the Cloak Ox to Zoo Animal, Gospel Gossip, and Red Pens.

We've contacted the venue for further information about the closure (update: see below for statements from the venue's artistic director and booker), but for now here is the statement they posted to their website:

Friends of Loring Theater:

The Directors, LLP has decided not to renew its lease on Loring Theater (a.k.a. The Music Box Theatre) located at 1407 Nicollet Avenue in Minneapolis.  The company will cease operating in the building effective December 31, 2011.

In early 2010 we began to transform The Music Box Theatre into a modern day variety house under the building's original name Loring Theater.   With the support of a group of investors, the owner of the building, a talented staff of professionals and many others we built an operating infrastructure that added a fantastic 440-seat venue back into the vibrant Twin Cities performing arts scene.

Since we opened, over 15,000 people walked through the doors and hundreds of artists performed on the stage.  We are proud of our work, honored to have been stewards of the space, and grateful to all who contributed their time, talent and money to this amazing venture.  Loring Theater is an amazing building in a phenomenal location and there are many, many artists who love performing on that stage.  Our hope is that someone will pick up where we left off and continue to make Nicollet Avenue and 14thStreet in the Loring Park Neighborhood a destination for affordable quality entertainment. 

Best wishes to all for a happy and prosperous New Year.

Steve Barberio
The Directors, LLP

UPDATE, 11:57 a.m.: Here's a sweet farewell note from Noah Paster, who formerly booked the now-defunct 501 Club and recently worked as a booker at the Loring Theater:

"It was a pleasure being involved with such a historic building," he writes. "I love working there and seeing shows like the TVBC reunion play to a quiet room. It's rare when you really enjoy everyone you work with as well. I will really miss that part about the job. Hopefully the Twin Cities can make these type of venues work out in the future but I regress. It is a tough time everywhere you go. Maybe someone can even keep the Loring going? Thanks to all who attended, played, bought a drink from me, and booked a show with me. Cheers."

UPDATE, 2:30 p.m.: We just spoke with artistic director Steve Barberio, who provided some additional details about his decision to close the theater. 

"The primary factor was that we did an analysis of whether we thought we could do better in the first quarter of next year than we did in the third quarter of this year," he says, adding that they had begun scaling back programming in the fall and cut some of the staff. "We've had an incredible time at the theater, and it has been one of the most exciting artistic periods of my life, but I didn't see it was going to make it."

Barberio says he's going to focus full-time on his career in leadership development (he's spent eight years working at the James P. Shannon Leadership Institute), and is "not looking to take on another project of that scope right now," though he hopes an investor will come in to rescue the space.



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