Sometimes you don’t know what you have until you lose it.

Mesa’s Broadway Palm Dinner Theatre announced this past week that it will close July 30. The owners left some hope that the theater could reopen in October, but not with the same business model.

The Tribune has long been a booster of Broadway Palm. Dinner theater is more than just food and a show. It is great fun and the Broadway Palm owners and employees have always made sure fun is at the center of an evening at their theater. Not having this kind of night out as an option in the East Valley makes both the cultural and theater scene just a little poorer.

“It’s always a difficult decision to close a theater,” executive producer and owner William T. Prather told the Tribune. “We have so many loyal customers and employees, many of whom have been with us since the beginning. However, the current business model and long summer months have proven too difficult to navigate in the current economic times. I’m confident the theater will reopen later this year with a great new theater concept.”

We hope so.

In the meantime, the shows go on through the end of July.

“Run for Your Wife,” “Me and My Girl” and the children’s theatre production “Schoolhouse Rock Live!” remain on stage for the next several weeks. “A Closer Walk with Patsy Cline” (April 12-May 26), “Funny Money” (April 12-May 20), “Pinkalicious” (May 4-25) and a series of concerts will play later in the spring.

Sixteen concerts and “Disney’s Alice in Wonderland” are scheduled for the summer. For information or tickets, call (480) 325-6700 or visit

What will have to happen for the theater to reopen in the fall? The owners haven’t spelled that out clearly. But East Valley residents should try to chip in to make sure some sort of commercial theater presence is preserved here. That can be done by buying tickets and showing up to fill seats through the next 4½ months. That could provide the confidence the owners need to invest in a new business model for theater in Mesa.

This is professional theater. Prather Entertainment Group owns the venue, as well as two others in Florida and Pennsylvania and a national touring theater company. The owner will make a business decision.

To be sure, the Valley has the East Valley Arts Center, the Arizona Broadway Theater in Peoria and some more small theater troupes. But these are often more artsy and less for the masses. Broadway Palm brings popular shows to life on the stage in the East Valley.

Consider these shows that have appeared at Broadway Palm: “Crazy for You,” “Singing in the Rain,” “Annie,” Fiddler on the Roof,” “South Pacific,” “Music Man,” “Forever Plaid,” “Miss Saigon,” “Sound of Music,” “Camelot,” “Oklahoma,” “Funny Girl,” “Beauty and the Beast,” “My Fair Lady,” “The King and I,” “Chorus Line,” “Chicago,” and “Oliver.”

And the troupe has put on some wonderfully fun shows like “Legally Blond,” and “Me and My Girl” (showing now).

So rather than see yet another mediocre-rated movie, consider taking a drive over to Broadway Palm Theatre. These next few weeks may be your last chance to experience dinner theater in the East Valley. Or, your ticket purchase may bring the owners one step closer to reopening next fall so that Mesa and the East Valley doesn’t lose this entertainment option permanently.

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