Willows Theater taking its final bow


My grandmother — like all other old-school Jewish women — is a creature of habit.

She won’t let her teaching job bully her into using a computer when she’s perfectly fine handwriting everything. She’s worn Evyan White Shoulders perfume since before I was born. And she’s gone Russian dancing with “her crew” the same night every week since who-knows-when.

So, being a creature of habit, she’s not going to be very pleased when she hears that one of her mainstays, The Willows Theater in Concord, won’t be open for much longer.

Today’s CoCo Times tells us the Willows Theater Company will be closing its venues in both Concord and Martinez.

Martinez Mayor Rob Schroder tells the Times that he expects the 38-year-old theater company’s board of directors to make an official statement on the closure on Monday afternoon.

It’ll be a sad day for all those who still attend regular shows there, those who didn’t already stop attending shows at either venue in the past couple of years. Debt and dropping ticket sales have plagued the company since 2009.

An effort in 2010 to draw a larger crowd to the Martinez theater — by way of closing down the Concord theater in the Willows Shopping Center — resulted in the loss of 1,900 season ticket holders.

Sensational rent and overbearing loans have also played a part in the theater company’s financial woes. The lease on the Martinez theater is good for another two years, but the city is looking to bring a new cabaret into the venue.

Schroder tells the Times that he “envisions an arrangement akin to the Lesher Center in Walnut Creek” to take the Willows’ place in the Campbell Theater space.

There is no report yet on what will come of the Concord venue.

The Willows Theater Company website is currently offline, and the Times reports that phone calls about the closure have not been returned.

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