The recession is starting to hit nonprofit theaters with the 1,388 capacity North Shore Music Theatre (NSMT) in Beverly, MA, issuing a “Save Our Theatre Appeal.”

On December 29, the Boston area venue posted on its Web site that “without immediate philanthropic support it will close its doors after 55 years of providing performing arts and educational programming to millions. The theatre’s leadership is urging the public to show its support by purchasing tickets to the remaining 13 performances of ‘Disney High School Musical 2,’ which runs through January 11.”

Three years ago, the NSMT was ravaged by a fire that practically halted the intimate venue and radically increased its debt in its restoration. Lower than expected philanthropic support plus slow ticket sales might do the theatre in. So far 57 employees were let go on December 29.

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“The theater needs around $500,000 to stay open until late spring but will also need another $4 million to open for next season,” Carol LaRosa, the theater’s manager of public relations, told the Associated Press. “If ticket sales don’t increase for the current performance, which ends January 11, the theater will cease all performances and educational programming. This year, the theater trimmed $1 million in expenses.”

The North Shore Music Theatre’s musicals, concerts and educational programming attract more than 300,000 annually. The projected 2009 musical season is “Phantom of the Opera” from April 21-May 10; “The Wedding Singer” from June 2-21; “Anything Goes” from July 14-August 2; “Altar Boyz” from August 25-September 13; “Little Shop of Horrors” from September 29-October 18; and “Hello Dolly” from November 3-22.

Some of 2008’s concerts included Chris Botti, Boz Scaggs, B.B. King, Aaron Neville Quintet Featuring Charles Neville, Bill Engvall, Neil Sedaka, The Beach Boys and Tony Bennett.

Last Updated on March 2, 2009