Economy hits local community theaters - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Economy hits local community theaters

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DUBUQUE (KWWL) - There are hundreds of local theaters in Eastern Iowa and each year they perform a number of plays and musicals for the local community. But since the economy took a turn the Grand Opera House in Dubuque has been trying out a new act to fill it's seats.

Since 1889 performers have taken the stage at the Grand Opera House in Dubuque. First as an opera house, then a movie theater and now a community theater. In 2002 the theater went through a major renovation. In 2008 John Stuff took over as executive director.

"It was really great, terrific shows going on here," said Stuff.

But a few months after Stuff took the job the curtain fell on the economy.

"Just about every revenue stream is tight right now, the grants are fewer, tickets sales are down, donations are down. Just about ever avenue of it is down right now," said Stuff.

Sue Linehart and friends live in Guttenberg, they've been making trips to Grand for several years.

"I think it's really nice because you don't have to drive so far and you don't have big traffic jams or trying to location it in the bigger cities," said Linehart.

While she's in town, she says she'll stop at Dubuque restaurants and shops. Still the seats are empty but this summer the grand is trying a new approach.

"Economic times are tough for everyone, including us, but to give people the opportunity to see a really wonderful musical comedy performance, we're offering the 2 for 1 special all 17 performances," said Stuff.

It's an idea that started during their last show. For one night they offered the special and ticket sales doubled. This time around they hope to bring in life long patrons.

"If we can get people into the grand and see the quality performances hopefully people will be willing ot pay full price for shows," said Stuff.

Shows that Stuff hopes will bring community theater to life.

"It's truly community, getting people from all walks of live," said Stuff.

Currently the Grand is showing the musical "Little Shop of Horrors" through July 25th. They plan to run the 2 for 1 special through then.

Online Reporter: Lauren Squires
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