Curtain Goes Down on Ivory Theatre "Horror Show"

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Jennifer Silverberg
Perrino and Allen in happier days at the Ivory.
Ever since it opened three years ago, the Ivory Theatre in Carondelet has been beset by controversy. Aggrieved theater companies have accused the Ivory, specifically its general manager Donna Perrino, of negligence and general mismanagement. Among other things, Perrino was said to have reneged on agreements to let groups use the space, ignored requests for improvements and trashed the theater. (For more, see "Stage Fright: The Ivory is turning into a horror show for some St. Louis theater companies.")

But times have changed. Perrino has left her position at the Ivory. Or, as the anonymous blogger who has been chronicling Perrino's misdeeds on the blog The Ivory Theatre Horror Show puts it, "Ding Dong the witch is dead."

(A correction of this paragraph appears at the end of the post.)

Mike Allen, co-owner of Red Brick Management, which owns the Ivory, confirmed Perrino's departure.

"We were trying to find ways to broaden our range," Allen says. "Donna's focus was on musical theater. We decided to part ways."

Now Perrino has found a new home on the Goldenrod Showboat, which is currently moored on the Illinois River outside Kampsville, Illinois, about 70 miles due north of St. Louis. The century-old boat has had a long and varied history (for more, see this account by preservationist Michael Allen), but has, in recent years, lapsed into a state of decrepitude.

Steve DeBallis, who published the "historic" Globe-Democrat (the one that reprinted old G-D articles, not the current online revival), bought the boat recently and, under the aegis of his company the Historic Riverboat Preservation Association, plans to restore it to its former glory. Perrino, who is dating DeBallis, has been appointed project manager.

(Comments the Ivory Theatre Horror Show blogger: "As badly as she messed up the Ivory, imagine what she'll do to the poor Goldenrod...")

And even with the departure of Perrino, all is not well at the Ivory. Cast and crew of this summer's production of Cabaret, produced by Perrino, claim they haven't been paid. Red Brick's Allen also says that the theater didn't get paid for the rental.

Perrino herself has been telling people that her partners forced her into bankruptcy in the wake of Cabaret. (Daily RFT could find no record of a bankruptcy under her name in court records.) She did not respond to an email seeking comment.

Cindy Walker has replaced Perrino as the Ivory's general manager, but even with the change in personnel, local companies are still reluctant to stage their productions at the theater.

"It's such a terribly designed space, practically speaking, and it also got run down really fast because Perrino didn't take care of the place," alleges Scott Miller, artistic director of New Line Theatre. (Among Miller's complaints: The raised electrical outlets onstage impede choreography, the stage door was so narrow that sets had to be constructed directly on the stage and, worst of all, there was only one toilet available for the cast and crew to use during intermission.)

Allen hopes that his plan to expand the Ivory's offerings beyond musicals will improve the theater's fortunes. (So far, however, the Ivory's next two shows, Altar Boyz and The Rocky Horror Show are musicals, and the two after that, And the World Goes Round and A Country Christmas, are musical revues.)

"With outside financial support," he says optimistically, "we're even closer to breaking even."

Correction: The two comments attributed to the Ivory Theatre Horror Show blogger were actually quotes from a post Scott Miller had made on the St. Louis Theatre Discussion Group.

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