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Letters to the Editor

GUEST COLUMN: Cue Theatricals didn't leave Dixon. Dixon walked away.

Theater’s own issues caused venue limbo

Regarding the Sauk Valley Media Editorial Board’s opinion about Cue Theatrical’s departure from the Historic Dixon Theater [“Look for silver linings in Cue’s exit from Dixon theater,” Aug. 22]:

Cue did not cancel the first scheduled show, “Tuesdays With Morrie.” Jamie Farr walked on his contract.

Cue remained committed to bringing a “name.” We contracted the Ed Asner show. This brought an Emmy winner, AND the first public signing of his book at Books On First, a coup basically taken for granted.  

Ticket sales for Asner’s show exceeded Farr’s.

Comments regarding the failure of Cue to gain momentum is a fallacy. Ticket sales increased, and exceeded the production company’s seasonal projections.

Cue Theatricals has been in the production business for 25 years. We knew what to expect for ticket sales, in a “test” year for a virtually lifeless theater. 

We booked the theater and set up a professional box office operation and a partnership with Dixon Main Street as a ticket outlet. We created a paid 50-mile advertising and marketing program. Half of the ticket buyers were from out-of-market – they patronized restaurants, bars, and downtown shops as well as our “official hotel.” We donated $15,000 in tickets to local nonprofits for fundraisers.

“[I]t was clear from the outset that Cue Theatricals (from Florida) wasn’t a good fit for Dixon.”  

In reality, Cue Theatricals was from 1033 Ann Ave. I brought “Menopause The Musical” to town in 2005 in an attempt to revitalize downtown, but shops and restaurants closed – save that of my prom date, Bill Eastman.

In returning in 2015-16 at the behest of then-Mayor Jim Burke, I planned to make Dixon one of the “Top 100 Small Art Towns in America.” Tom Elmendorf and Dixon Theater Renovation Inc. prevented that from happening. 

So I circled around as Cue Theatricals.

Few people knew I returned. My favorite times were when Elmendorf trashed “that Jeanie Linders” to the staff, not knowing they were my employees. I invested my time, staff and money in my hometown because I thought I knew that it could be a contender.  

With the sponsorship and marketing program, Dixon’s first-year commitment to the theater, sponsors, and patrons loving the option of touring professional theater in their backyard, Cue committed to a second year, knowing we would have to train a promised new board, which never materialized. 

John Poland sent many emails to Mayor Liandro Arellano, and Mike Venier, saying, “We are ready when you are.”

Cue did not leave Dixon. Dixon walked away.

With the exception of sorting out building operations, the silver lining is tarnished.

Professional theater is a VERY small community. To pull first-class touring productions away from St. Charles, Davenport and Rockford, the theater has to be a “player.” It has to have a ticket history, professional box office, committed marketing plan, professional production season, community and political support, and a commitment to the future. None of which exists with the Historic Dixon Theater.

The theater is back to Venier’s band, with $12 tickets at his jewelry store. Apparently there’s nothing wrong with that.

Note to readers: Jeanie Linders is the writer and producer of the smash hit “Menopause: The Musical.”

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