SOOP ends talks to use Manor Club auditorium; club says it sought payment of bills for prior shows

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SOOP ends talks to use Manor Club auditorium; club says it sought payment of bills for prior shows

"Thoroughly Modern Millie" was SOOP’s STAR Mainstage Production in October at the Manor Club.

Liz Farrell Photography

"Thoroughly Modern Millie" was SOOP’s STAR Mainstage Production in October at the Manor Club.

Liz Farrell Photography

Liz Farrell Photography

"Thoroughly Modern Millie" was SOOP’s STAR Mainstage Production in October at the Manor Club.

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The SOOP Theater Company announced it was unable to reach a new agreement to produce its Main Stage productions in the auditorium of the Manor Club at 1023 Esplanade in Pelham Manor.

For its part, the Manor Club said it refused to do a new deal until bills for previous productions were paid, according to an article in PelhamPLUS.

“We are deeply saddened by this unfortunate turn of events,” said SOOP in a statement on its website. “We were unable to find a way forward in these recent negotiations.”

The planned production of “Seussical Jr.” had to be cancelled, the company said, though voice and piano lessons and workshops will remain at the Manor Club through June 2019.

According to a story by PelhamPLUS Editor and Manor Club Board Member Maggie Klein, “The Manor Club board had asked SOOP to pay past money owed, including a bill for its March 2018 production of ‘The Little Mermaid’ and its October 2018 production of ‘Thoroughly Modern Millie,’ before agreeing to the spring production rental.”

“Negotiations with a representative for SOOP were continuing when SOOP made its public announcement cancelling the spring production,” said the PelhamPLUS article.

SOOP Artistic Director Paul Romanello said in a statement emailed Saturday afternoon, “SOOP, though feeling forced to defend itself, will remain on the ‘high road’ in this process and not share the many details of this very difficult renegotiation, but we would like to make it perfectly clear that ALL of SOOP’s responses were necessary and unavoidable.”

“SOOP has many dear friends and advocates at TMC, so it makes it even more difficult to understand why they and The Pelham Plus would choose to discuss and publish details about ‘past money owed’ and ‘past bills,’ particularly when both are aware that that is not the full story,” Romanello wrote. “SOOP can only assume that TMC is reacting to the huge backlash they have been receiving from the community since they made the first announcement to their membership some three weeks ago, and growing stronger since our announcement on Dec. 18.”

The full text of the SOOP letter to the community is available on the Pelham Examiner here.

In a note on Friday to other news media including the Pelham Examiner, Klein said her article could be re-published and that she checked the facts with TMC President Alice Dean and the TMC’s attorney. As it was written by a Manor Club board member, the PelhamPLUS article was essentially serving as a press release for the Manor Club, and that is how the Pelham Examiner is treating it, using quotes from the article on TMC’s position.

With the failure to cut a new deal, SOOP said it is seeking a permanent home for its work, including rehearsal space and a studio in Pelham. In order to make this happen, the company has set up a GoFundMe page. SOOP said it will need money to secure a location and transport sets and props out of the Manor Club by mid-January. 

“We will miss our partnership with the Manor Club and value deeply our creative time and energy spent there,” SOOP said in its website statement. “We wish them nothing but the best in their future endeavors.”

For more information on this decision, visit SOOP’s website: www.sooptheatre.org