Famed New York theater won't reopen from COVID shutdown

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ELMSFORD, Westchester County (WABC) -- After 46 years in business, the Westchester Broadway Theatre -- New York's longest running Actor's Equity theater -- will not reopen from its coronavirus-related shutdown.

Officials announced the decision on the theater's website Monday, saying they have determined there is no way they will be able to open when the ban on live theater is lifted.

"The work that WBT has done over the years has been truly historic and will go down in history, not only in Westchester, but in the theatre industry," they wrote. "Over the years, WBT has produced 217 musicals, hosted numerous concerts, benefits and fundraisers, employed 5,000 theatre professionals, many who have gone on to Broadway and beyond, and served over 6 million customers."

They said the venue's landlord will not support the lease and that the building will be turned into a warehouse.

"It is with a great sadness that we say goodbye," founders Bob Funking and Bill and Von Ann Stutler wrote in a letter to employees. "We wish you much good will in the future. We will miss you!"

They point out Westchester residents will still have a professional Equity theatre when restrictions are lifted, the White Plains Performing Arts Center located in downtown White Plains.

That theater has used the shutdown to make renovations to accommodate what they call the "new world of theatre," including air purification systems, advanced cleaning solutions, and social distancing restrictions.

"As someone who grew up seeing and working on shows at WBT, it's with a heavy heart that we say goodbye to our colleague," White Plains PAC Executive Producer Stephen Ferri said. "The work they have done over the years was remarkable. When we heard of this news, we knew we had to do something to not only honor their legacy but also make sure we keep professional theatre alive in Westchester. We are honored to have the torch passed to us at White Plains PAC to take on that task."

White Plains PAC will assist affected WBT ticket holders by honoring outstanding tickets and gift cards for a future WPPAC show.

Eligible patrons will be contacted in the coming weeks with details about the exchange program.

For more information, visit WPPAC.com/WBT.

They can also be contacted via email at boxoffice@wppac.com or by phone at 914-328-1600.

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