The Rainbow’s Comedy Playhouse is closing permanently days after a letter to employees announced a “profound misappropriation of finances and revenue.”
Friday’s closing announcement was posted at its Facebook page.
“After exploring the situation more deeply, and with no funds for food or operations, we find that we have no other option than to announce to our Rainbow family that we are now closed permanently,” said the post addressed to “Rainbow Patrons.”
The Paradise theater, formerly known as the Rainbow Dinner Theatre, changed ownership in January. After running the theater for 34 years, founders David and Cindy DiSavino passed the ownership to three people involved with the theater.
On the theater’s website, the DiSavinos called the three new leaders the “next generation” of managers.
The trio took on different facets of the business — Amber Besash as executive chef, Jonathan Erkert as artistic director and Kelly Sechrist as officer manager and treasurer.
But in its first eight months with the new leaders, the alleged mismanagement of funds led the company to put its productions on an indefinite hiatus. In the Aug. 18 letter from Besash and Erkert, the two co-owners say the “horrific set of circumstances” leaves the company unable to issue payroll for the July 29-through-Aug. 11 pay period.
The two co-owners also advised the theater’s employees to file for unemployment benefits.
“We are sorry this has happened,” Besash and Erkert wrote.
One leader resigns
In the letter, Besash and Erkert told staff that Sechrist submitted her resignation and forfeited her keys on Aug. 9 and has not returned to the theater. The two wrote they are “addressing this matter with as much haste and efficiency that we are legally permitted to,” adding that they are working with a number of parties to resolve the matter.
Sechrist, Besash and Erkert could not be reached for comment, despite multiple Facebook messages and calls to them Thursday and Friday prior to the Facebook post notifying patrons of the decision to permanently close.
Two employees confirmed the authenticity of the letter to LNP. The letter also was sent to a reporter at LNP, postmarked from the theater.
Brett Hambright, the spokesperson for Lancaster County District Attorney Craig Stedman, wrote in an email to LNP prior to Friday's announcement that he could not confirm or deny if there is an investigation into the indefinite closure of the Rainbow’s Comedy Playhouse.
In their letter to employees, Besash and Erkert wrote, “This is the great challenge of our lives and we want everyone to know, regardless of your feelings on the matter, that we are not throwing the towel in.”
The dinner theater is along Route 30, about 4 miles east of major attractions such as Sight & Sound Theatre, the American Music Theatre and Tanger Outlets.
Dave DiSavino said he and Cindy acted in the first two shows under the new owners and “as far as we knew, they were doing fine.”
“On a personal level, Cindy and I are kind of heartbroken to see 34 years of work (impacted),” Dave DiSavino added before Friday’s announcement. “I don’t know what's going on, I’m not in contact with any of the owners, and they’re not answering their phones.”