Cutbacks at the Rep | Rock Candy

Cutbacks at the Rep

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Three staffers of the Rep have been laid off. Artistic Director Bob Hupp described the cutbacks as a reaction to lower than expected ticket sales of recent productions in the context of broader economic trends. “We’re equipped to weather downturns. But we don’t want to be forced in a very short time frame to change the way we operate.”

Brad Mooy, the Rep’s artistic associate and literary manager, had been with the theater for 19 years. His primary responsibility was to direct plays throughout the season. Most recently he helmed the Rep’s production of “Hello, Dolly!” Also laid off were Hunter Scott, a marketing coordinator, and Amanda Ytzen, a production intern in the costume department.
Hupp said he does not anticipate further cutbacks. Nor does he foresee an adjustment of ticket prices or the 2008-2009 season, which the Rep will announce on March 17. The final three productions of the season—“Sherlock Holmes: The Final Adventure,” “Fire on the Mountain!” and “Sing, Dance, Repeat!” will continue as planned.

In the short term, Hupp expects that he will direct more plays to fill the void left by Mooy. The Rep also plans to unveil a campaign to raise awareness in the coming months.  Hupp says the theater will undertake a mailing that explains how the Rep works financially. “We take for granted that a lot of people — even those who might come to plays regularly — don’t understand what we do and how we do it.”

The mailing will, in part, explain that the Rep is a nonprofit, with an annual budget around $3 million, that receives its funding from federal, state, local and individual sources. According to Hupp, around 55% of the theater’s budget comes from ticket sales, with the balance coming from contributions. A musical like “Hello, Dolly” costs the theater over $350,000 to produce, while a sparer production like “Doubt” ranges from $100,000 to $125,000. The Rep’s capacity is 350, which according to Hupp, makes it one of the smallest professional theater companies in the country. Actors are paid salaries that are tied to a national union scale. Whereas a 500-600 seat theater might pay for a production in a two week run, it takes the Rep five to six weeks to pay for a production, Hupp says. Despite that economic reality, Hupp says he knows the intimacy of the Rep’s theater is important its supporters.

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