Arts organizations of all sizes, all over the country are suffering due to pandemic lockdowns and eight straight months without live audiences. And the latest casualty in San Francisco is the scrappy theater company known as Bay Area Musicals.
The company has filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy and announced its permanent closure, as SFist has learned. Subscribers have received debtors' notices in the last week.
"Sometimes life throws curveballs, and the devastation of COVID-19 and its mandated closures presented a challenge we have been unable to overcome," says company founder and artistic director Matthew McCoy in a statement. "Sadly, despite the Board of Directors finding a pathway to survive, we had no alternative except to accept the reality that Bay Area Musicals has become one of the casualties of the pandemic's global impact."
The 2019/2020 season was the company's fifth anniversary season.
McCoy founded Bay Area Musicals in 2014, and since then the group has mounted ambitious productions of many Broadway and off-Broadway hits, complete with orchestration, including Hair, Stephen Sondheim's Assassins, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Gypsy, and Hairspray.
And like other small San Francisco theater companies Ray of Light Theatre, SF Playhouse, and Custom Made Theatre Co., Bay Area Musicals took on big shows with often big casts, all with a view toward brining more musicals into the lives of Bay Area fans — besides the touring fare that comes to down through Broadway SF (formerly SHN SF).
The last show staged by Bay Area Musicals was The Full Monty, which ran through March 15, 2020. Broadway World gave the production a largely positive review, with critic Jim Munson noting that it's "curious show" with a lot tricky elements to balance — not the least of which being a group male striptease that's supposed to be fun and sexy but not too sexy — and director and choreographer Leslie Waggoner succeeded in achieving "a welcome consistency of tone."
The two planned shows left in the season that never made it to the stage were A Chorus Line, and Lin-Manuel Miranda's Tony-winning first Broadway show, In the Heights.
"Our hope is that theatre will one day return…and with everyone’s support, it will," McCoy writes. "When that happens, I will be thrilled to see you again as a fellow audience member in another theatre."
Photo from the company's 2019 production of Hairspray via Instagram