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For-sale sign out at Little London Theater

Dinner shows were popular but not profitable

SHARE For-sale sign out at Little London Theater

PLEASANT GROVE — It's not that the crowds haven't been coming for dinner and a show.

It's not that the Little London Theatre hasn't been popular over the past couple of years. It just hasn't been successful enough to overcome the costs involved.

And now the Pleasant Grove landmark, originally known as the Alhambra Theatre, has closed and is in the process of being sold.

According to owner Suzanne Kirby, the theater was sold out for the run of "A Christmas Carol" this past December. Every show — and Little London has mounted eight or nine shows a year — has brought better numbers than the show before, she said.

Little London's unusual version of "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat," which incorporated characters from "Nunsense," brought rave reviews, as did "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum" and "Lost in Yonkers." But the combination of paying actors, royalties, and all of the associated costs of providing a choice of hot dinners within the price of the ticket, has proved to be too much, Kirby said.

Plus, Kirby's husband, Bill, changed jobs and could no longer participate in the operation as much as he had. "The decision to sell was made a year and a half ago, when my husband got this humongous new job and couldn't help me," Kirby said. "We'd never done that in our marriage, gone two different directions. So I'm going to stay home and be Grandma."

Kirby said she has three different buyers interested in purchasing the theater, built 77 years ago on Main Street in Pleasant Grove. In July 1999, the Kirbys completely refurbished and redecorated the building, putting in a kitchen, tiered seating for tables and chairs, and a stage area. The setting was tasteful and ornate, comfortable and cozy.

They assembled a small staff and decided to pay their performers rather than run a community theater program. "That's one way (to go with a community theater). We didn't choose to do that," Kirby said. "But there are a lot more costs with this approach."

The Kirbys also had some difficulty getting the local publicity they felt they needed.

"It's been a combination of things. But that's spilled milk," she said. "I'm sad, very sad. But this will be OK."

E-mail: haddoc@desnews.com