SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Local News

August 25, 2009

Foreclosure auction set for North Shore Music Theatre

BEVERLY — The property and assets of the North Shore Music Theatre will be auctioned off to the highest bidder at an upcoming foreclosure auction, according to the theater's former chairman.

David Fellows said four groups with theater backgrounds have expressed interest in buying the property and continuing to operate it as an arts center.

"I think everyone is thinking musicals, but they are also thinking of other things, from Shakespeare to straight plays to dance to opera," Fellows said. "People are using this as an opportunity to think about what would sell and what is needed in North Shore communities."

North Shore Music Theatre closed in June due to mounting financial problems. Fellows said the board of trustees has turned the property and assets over to Citizens Bank, which is in the process of foreclosing on the theater's two mortgages, which total about $5.2 million.

The theater also owes another $5 million to subscribers and vendors, but that is unsecured debt that won't be repaid unless the auction sale nets enough money, Fellows said.

Fellows said the bank plans to hold a foreclosure auction soon. A spokeswoman for Citizens Bank said bank officials would not comment.

Fellows declined to name the four arts organizations that are interested in buying the theater. He said all four are from New England, including one from Massachusetts.

Fellows said he does not know if there is other interest in the property for nontheater uses.

"There is hope that amongst these four groups that someone will emerge and put on theater," he said. "All four are very different in their theater background and their approach, but all of them want to see theater continue in that area.

"The question I can't answer is price — what will the assets go for at auction?"

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