Supporters of the Off-Off-Broadway theatre Todo con Nada united in a last-minute drive to prevent its eviction from its longtime space at 176 Ludlow St. last week, with the results yet to be determined.
The Nada Classic Theatre opened its doors as a storefront theatre in 1988, before gentrification made the Lower East Side a trendy neighborhood. Over the ensuing years, rents have steadily escalated in the area, including the rent on Nada's space. That financial drain on Nada's finances was worsened by debts incurred three years ago, when the theatre borrowed money to co-found the New York International Fringe Festival.
By Mon., Oct. 16, the theatre had to raise $24,000 in 24 hours. If it failed, it would be evicted.
Members of the theatrical community came from Broadway, Off-Broadway, and Off-Off-Broadway to rally to Nada's defense, taking part in a Monday night benefit reading of Frank Capra's classic film "It's a Wonderful Life." Kate Hampton of the current Broadway revival of "The Best Man" starred as Mary Bailey, and Nada Executive Director Aaron Beall played the guardian angel Clarence. There was no set admission fee; instead, audience members were asked to donate what they could to keep the theatre alive.
By the end of the evening, Nada had collected $16,000 in donations, and pledges for the rest of the money that it needed.
Unfortunately, that wasn't enough to satisfy the property owner, who evicted the theatre the next morning.
Although it seemed that the fundraiser was all for naught—which is, ironically, the English translation of "Todo con Nada"—Bell and Artistic Director Ian W. Hill refused to admit defeat, and filed to have the matter settled in court.
A hearing on the eviction was scheduled for Thurs., Oct. 26. Back Stage will report on developments as they become available.