Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Second bailout group pledges return of New Hope's Bucks County Playhouse to 'glory days'

Bucks County Playhouse (background) and former Club Zadar in New Hope, PA 

By Charlie Sahner

W. Paul Beckwith of New Hope announced at Tuesday night's Borough Council meeting that he and a private foundation are mounting a rival effort to rescue and restore the foreclosed Bucks County Theater.

Broadway producer Jed Bernstein and a pair of local residents had announced in December their formation of a "Bucks County Playhouse Conservancy," but that group appears somewhat adrift, according to sources close to the organization.

In a statement read in his absence by an associate, Beckwith said that his group's intention was to return the Playhouse to "its glory days and advance the program offerings to include opera, symphony, professional theater, [and] productions by local individuals and groups."

Beckwith said that the group is developing a plan through the established New Hope Arts organization to convert the Playhouse into a "not for profit venue" through "the generosity of a private foundation."

The plan envisions an "outlet" at the Playhouse site that will serve "the good people of New Hope/Lambertville as well as the surrounding area" and become "a pivotal performing arts center for all to enjoy."

Added Beckwith in his statement, "What is important to note is that steps are being taken to develop a program for the Playhouse to ensure that the coming season presents a vital and entertaining program while the plan moves forward."

He urged patience on the part of concerned residents and groups, citing "complexities" arising from the controversial series of events leading to the Playhouse's recent closure.

But, pledged Beckwith, "The project deserves and will receive a solid financial, legal, and executable plan to keep the Playhouse pertinent for generations to come.

"We are dedicated to the Borough of New Hope, we respect the role that the Playhouse plays in the historic, social and economic climate of the area and truly what it means to our fellow residents," he continued.

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