CEO and executive producer Joseph E. Palmer, who acquired the Akron theatre in 2003 with David W. Slaght, confirmed to Playbill.com that the theatre would close its doors following the Jan. 3 performance of the 1950's Elvis jukebox musical All Shook Up.
In a statement released on the website for the 35 year-old theatre, Palmer stated, "The economy has materially affected the theatre's attendance and its ability to make cost adjustments to keep pace with the decrease in attendance. The final tipping point became the reversal of certain stakeholders' written or verbal promises that would have had a major impact on the theatre's continuance for the 2009 season and beyond."
Ticket holders who purchased their seats and gift certificates for upcoming shows with a credit card were instructed to contact their credit card companies in order to process any refunds.
The 2009 season was to continue beginning Jan. 7 with Doo Wop: Life Could Be a Dream. Also on the bill were planned productions of My Fair Lady, Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story, The Full Monty, High School Musical, The Producers, Guys and Dolls and It's a Wonderful Life.
Founded in 1973, the Carousel Dinner Theatre began life in a converted Ravenna, OH, supermarket prior to moving to its current Akron location. In addition to members of Actors Equity, the Ohio institution employed members of the American Federation of Musicians and the Society of Directors and Choreographers. The Carousel Dinner Theatre was also part of the noteworthy plagiarism lawsuit filed by the Broadway creators and collaborators of Urinetown in 2006. The Akron theatre later paid an undisclosed sum to the Broadway creative team for utilizing elements of the original Broadway production that were incorporated into the Akron staging.