Southtowns residents who were making plans to attend a fifth production of Hamburg Theatre Under the Stars this Labor Day weekend are out of luck.
The director of the all-volunteer theater company known as HTUTS said he could not raise enough money for this year’s show.
“We’re skipping a year, and hopefully we can return next year if we get the support,” said Tony Baksa.
“We bring thousands of people into the village. They are using the restaurants and the businesses.”
Baksa said he initiated a fundraising campaign, sending more than 150 letters to Hamburg businesses. He got four donations.
“It was a total and complete flop,” he said.
He said he has underwritten the plays the last four years. He got some of the money back from passing the hat at the outdoor productions in Memorial Park.
“This is no way to run a community outfit,” Baksa said, but he added, “The audiences are wonderful.”
The first play, a production of “Picnic,” attracted nearly 3,000 spectators in 2009. Two years ago, nearly 5,000 came to four performances over the Labor Day weekend, and last year more than 5,000 attended over the four days.
He said the fundraisers sometimes don’t raise a lot of money but do raise awareness of the theater company.
“I want to keep it a community event,” he said. “Somehow or other there has to be some financial support coming from the community.”
The director, actors and stage crew volunteer their time, but some items, such as rights to the plays, posters, programs, sound and lighting, cost money. Costs run between $2,000 and $5,000, depending on the production, Baksa said.
He said he is asked about the theater company daily, and one of his neighbors last week asked what play would be produced this year.
“We’re working on it. Hopefully we’ll be able to return next summer,” he said.