Watertown theater takes final bow after 40 seasons

Local News

The New Repertory Theatre in Watertown is shutting its doors after a few recent years of financial hardship. 

Cailan Doran and Dylan C. Wack in “The Normal Heart” at New Repertory Theatre.

The New Repertory Theatre in Watertown is permanently closing after 40 seasons due to economic challenges following the pandemic.  

“It’s a bit of the frog in the boiling pot, where we’ve been gradually coming up to this point. It’s always a challenge to put the puzzle pieces together, and then you add in all the different factors over the last couple of years, [and] it’s really swimming upstream to get to sustainability,” said New Rep Board Chair Chris Jones told WBUR. 

In 2021 the theater faced a difficult decision due to financial losses from the pandemic and paused its operations, Jones said in a statement.

However, after a nine-month hiatus, the theater produced a full-fledged season in 2023, with shows such as “The Normal Heart,” “A Raisin in the Sun,” and the world premiere of a new work titled “DIASPORA!”

Jones told WBUR that although ticket sales were encouraging, the cost of producing these works costs the theater hundreds of thousands of dollars. Money from ticket sales just isn’t quite enough when there isn’t a strong turnout of philanthropic donors. 

New Rep Resident Artist Maria Hendricks told WBUR that donors want to see the success of the season in order to produce funding to help the season, creating a gap between potential and actual income for the theater.

The theater was also committed to offering all its artists and workers a living wage following 2020’s national conversation surrounding race and equity. 

“That’s not a model that existed, necessarily, where every person employed by a theater was able to live on what they were making at the theater, and that is something that we were aspiring to. That would have also impacted the amount we needed to sustain ourselves moving forward,” New Rep Board Vice Chair Danielle Galligan told WBUR.

After the New Rep leaves its post at the Mosesian Center for the Arts, Galligan told WBUR she hopes a new group of theater folks will make use of the black box theater this organization once called their home. 

Originally posted 2023-10-22 14:02:45.