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Despite Closure Rumors, Philly's Prince Announces New Season

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Like many theaters in the current economy, the Prince Music Theatre is struggling to stay afloat.

But following a random comment at a movie screening Monday night, the venue's producing director, Marjorie Samoff, has been unable to squash persistent rumors that the financially troubled Philadelphia theater will soon close.

It all started when the film's co-director, Fred Caruso, reportedly blurted out, "It's such an amazing theater. It's a shame it's closing." Audience members were shocked. 

"Within hours, the comment became Internet fodder," wrote Howard Shapiro of The Philadelphia Inquirer, who reported the incident.  Since then, the gossip has spread over the past several days. 

"This is a shame," wrote one author on All That Chat, the discussion board of TalkinBroadway.com.  "I'm so sorry today to hear for the first time of its demise," wrote another. 

But in an email to Back Stage on Tuesday, Samoff denied that the theatre was closing and attached a news release that discussed plans to host several new productions for the 2009-2010 season.  "A chance remark triggered a flurry of questions," she wrote in her email. 

The news release blames an "ongoing conflict leading to litigation with the theatre's mortgage-holder, TD Bank," for the theater's woes.  It also says "we see light at the end of the tunnel… we are optimistic that an amicable resolution will be completed very shortly." 

Since Tuesday, the story has gone back and forth. 

According to an article by Dan Gross in The Philadelphia Daily News, last week's QFest was indeed the Prince's last production. In the story a source says "an arrangement between the Sheriff's Office and the Prince allowed the theater to keep its doors open long enough to host QFest, which brought in at least $45,000 for the struggling non-profit venue."

The story went on to say the "Sheriff's Office would not confirm whether the Chestnut Street theater was for sale."

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