Mayfair theater cancels first season

MAYFAIR. Northeast Philadelphia will be again without professional theater next month.

Barely two shows into its inaugural season hosting performing arts, the Devon Theater on Frankford Avenue will cancel the remaining shows once the current production, “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,” which opened just last Thursday, closes Dec. 13.

The executive director of the Mayfair Community Development Corp. blamed the state budget impasse, which forced many arts groups to go 100 days without any funding, for the abrupt closing.

“When the state budget is supposed to pass in June and doesn’t get signed until September, that puts you behind the 8-ball,” said Brian Patrick King, whose CDC owns the Devon. “A lot of money didn’t come through the door that we thought would.”

The Devon, once an adult movie theater, was the centerpiece of a $6 million revitalization project spearheaded by the Mayfair CDC and unveiled last March. It was the only professional equity theater in Northeast Philadelphia and one of just a handful outside of Center City in the region. King said this decision doesn’t mean theatre won’t return to the Devon in the future.

Now King and Devon staff have the arduous task of repaying about 700 subscribers who already paid to see the season’s remaining three shows. The CDC has put out two offers: patrons can either get a credit for four additional tickets to ‘Joseph’ or a dollar-for-dollar exchange for future shows, including concerts.

“Our number one priority is to keep our financial house in order,” he said. “This is an important part of an important project for us.”

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