The 2nd Story Theatre is closing down after decades in business. The Warren theater has scheduled its final performance for Sunday.
“All good things must come to an end,” wrote Artistic Director Ed Shea in a letter posted online. The unexpected announcement comes in the middle of the theater’s summer season.
Director of the 2nd Story board, Eileen Warburton would not disclose specifics of the theater’s decision to shut down. But she said in the months leading to the vote, the theater had taken on an expansion of its restaurant and experienced slow ticket sales.
“You’re adjusting to a new fiscal reality when you’re expanding your business,” Warburton said. She added that the theater was on “scary” thin ice after a “number” of issues.
Ultimately the board decided to cease operations last week. Warburton said she disagreed with the decision.
The theater began in the late 1970s in Newport, on the second floor of a building downtown, hence the name.
“It was in a really dumpy old bar, and upstairs was their theater and one time I sat down and my seat broke,” Rhode Island Public Radio theater critic Bill Gale said. “But the quality of the theater was shockingly good.”
Gale said 2nd Story helped kick-start a renaissance in local theater.
“They began, really, the small theater scene in Rhode Island,” Gale said. “There were others around, but none of them with their ability and drive, and confidence.”
The theater eventually moved to Providence, before settling in Warren in 2001, staging hundreds of shows in the meantime.
“There were extraordinary years” Warburton said. “Many artists in Rhode Island got their start here. Amazing things happened in those years, and I would really hope people would remember that.”