In Annapolis, Chesapeake Music Hall preps for its final curtain call this month

December 02, 2004|By Phillip McGowan | Phillip McGowan,SUN STAFF

The Chesapeake Music Hall - the only dinner theater in Annapolis - will let the curtain fall on its last performance at the end of this month, succumbing to competitive pressure after 15 years.

The music hall, just off U.S. 50 a few miles west of the Bay Bridge, has been managed by Sherry Kay Anderson for the past five years after she and her then-husband, Doug Yetter, purchased it in 1995. The facility had two previous owners, both of whom declared bankruptcy.

Anderson was unavailable for comment yesterday. In an e-mail statement, she attributed the closure to "lack of support of the arts and circumstances" beyond her control.

All performances through Dec. 26 will run as scheduled, said Heather Scheeler, the director of marketing and sales for the music hall. Scheeler said the theater began notifying ticket holders this week after Anderson informed the staff over Thanksgiving weekend of the impending closure.

Now, with the theater's run nearly done - the last performance is Yuletide Cheers on Dec. 26 - some in the local theater community are worried about what may be the end of dinner theater in Annapolis.

"When this goes down, it's going to be difficult to start another," said Robert Kauffman, a retired chairman of the performing arts department at Anne Arundel Community College. "It's tragic for the theater community and its audience."

The 250-seat facility put on six to seven shows a year, running primarily on the weekends, along with holding special events and a children's theater. The music hall employs local actors for most of its acts, and, because of budget constraints, performers usually are asked to wait tables or serve drinks before going on stage.

The theater faced stiff competition from nonprofits such as Colonial Players, Pasadena Theatre Company, Annapolis Summer Theatre and AACC.

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