In news that is rocking the local theater world, producer and longtime local stage impresario Carole Shorenstein Hays is ceding control of the Curran Theater following a court ruling in a case brought by SHN, the local theater group she co-founded.
As the Chronicle reports, the Delaware Supreme Court ruled on June 20 that Shorenstein Hays violated an agreement she had made with SHN (Shorenstein Hays Nederlander) when she took sole control of the Curran in 2014. At issue in the case were the production of Dear Evan Hansen, which played at the Curran last December, and the upcoming production of Broadway hit Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, which is coming to the theater this October. When Shorenstein Hays resigned as co-president of SHN and renovated the Curran to begin a new chapter in the theater's history, she had agreed in a non-compete clause not to stage tours of Broadway shows within 50 miles of San Francisco. SHN claimed she violated that agreement, but the Delaware Chancery Court ruled in favor of Shorenstein Hays. That ruling was appealed in the state Supreme Court, and on Friday we learned that SHN had prevailed.
Shorenstein Hays has now reportedly leased the Curran to England-based Ambassador Theatre Group (ATG), which operates 50 other theaters worldwide.
The news is disappointing for those who have appreciated Shorenstein Hays' taste in programming the theater, which has put on some of the best productions in the region over the last two years — including Bright Star, Fun Home, Taylor Mac's 24-Decade History of Popular Music, and Soft Power. Shorenstein Hays showed a willingness to bring Broadway productions to San Francisco that were not the assuredly commercial fare that SHN has become known for. Shorenstein Hayes retains part ownership of SHN.
Shorenstein Hays hasn't commented on the case, but an attorney for Nederlander gladly gave a comment to the Chronicle, saying, "This should finally put an end to the efforts of Mrs. Hays and her affiliates to undermine SHN’s decades-long program of bringing the best of Broadway to Bay Area residents. The prior claims of victory in this litigation by Mrs. Hays’ representatives were obviously premature and have now been proven wrong."