Friday, December 31, 2010

Second group emerges to save Bucks County Playhouse in New Hope

By Charlie Sahner

A new group has formed to save the foreclosed Bucks County Playhouse and is making a serious move to purchase the famous structure, according to multiple sources close to the situation.

The move comes at a time when the Doylestown-based Bucks County Playhouse Conservancy, founded by Peggy McRae and backed by the Heritage Conservancy of Doylestown, local lawyer Rick Appel, and Broadway producer Jed Bernstein, have announced their own rescue plan for the Playhouse, seized by lender Stoneridge Bank on Dec. 22.

Said Bernstein last week, “The entire theatre community was aghast at the idea of permanently losing this legendary venue and picturesque piece of theatre history.”

But substantial funding from Bernstein and his Broadway associates has not yet materialized, according to sources familiar with the organization, and the group appears adrift, only recently receiving non-profit certification and attempting to shed its somewhat enigmatic aura.

Enter the new Playhouse rescue group -- one which is "serious and not about to be beaten," according to an individual involved who asked not to be identified due to the sensitivity of the situation.  This latest, New Hope-based group is also non-profit, and intends to keep the Playhouse a performing arts center as part of a complete waterfront revival effort.

Importantly, say sources, the new group is well-funded and moving forward decisively.

Comment from the Bucks County Playhouse Conservancy was not immediately available.

(originally published December 30)

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