Patrons of shows that didn't show told to `sit tight'

Theater group's bankruptcy filings may offer some return on ticketholders' dollars

March 29, 2007|By J. Wynn Rousuck | J. Wynn Rousuck,Sun Theater Critic

The court-appointed bankruptcy trustee and the lawyer representing Baci Management Inc. - the company that stranded hundreds of patrons when shows failed to arrive at the Lyric House Opera - offered ticketholders some hope yesterday.

Baci and its Baltimore entity, Performing Arts Productions, which booked a subscription series at the Lyric, filed two bankruptcy petitions last week in Maryland federal court.

Bankruptcy trustee George W. Liebmann said there are roughly 300 consumer deposit claims (primarily from ticketholders), amounting to about $109,000 in the Performing Arts Production filing. He said he expected those claimants to receive notices, including claim forms, from the bankruptcy court within 15 to 20 days.

Ticketholders "probably will get something, but it will probably be a year down the road before they do," Liebmann said, adding, "I couldn't even estimate what they will get because it depends on the number of claims and the number who bother to file them." In the meantime, he advised Performing Arts patrons to "sit tight."

Howard M. Heneson, the lawyer representing Baci, said the company has "very few assets." Among these are "a set for Beauty and the Beast, the computers that contain most of the info shown in the schedules [and] whatever furniture is in the offices."

The filing lists assets of $400 for Performing Arts and liabilities of $545,000. The separate Baci filing reported assets of $290,000 and $4.9 million in liabilities.

Baci President Nicholas Litrenta could not be reached for comment yesterday. The office phone line has been disconnected.

The only significant assets, Liebmann said, are what is known as preference claims, which allow the trustee to recover any funds that were paid to creditors within the 90 days before the bankruptcy filing or to company owners or shareholders within a year before the filing. These funds can then be redistributed to priority claimants, who in this case would include ticketholders and subscribers.

Besides consumer claims, there are unsecured claims against Performing Arts Productions amounting to $300,000, Leibmann said. Among the claimants are radio stations and newspapers, including a claim for $17,375 by The Sun, mostly for advertising, and a claim for more than $45,000 by the Lyric.

Baci also operated subscription series in Norfolk and Richmond, Va., where lists of ticketholders have not yet been obtained.

Overall, however, Heneson, Baci's lawyer, expressed confidence in Leibmann's ability to unearth funds for restitution. "While it's not a real bright light on the sun," he said, "it's not totally bleak."

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