Theater of the Stars files for bankruptcy, leaves subscribers in wake
Bill & Kathy Stone
ATLANTA (CBS46) -
Atlanta is a city known for supporting the Arts. Whether it's the Atlanta Symphony or a show at the Alliance or the Fabulous Fox, every year Atlantan's spend millions of dollars on the town. Many buy season tickets to guarantee better seats. So what would you do if your pre-paid tickets were suddenly worthless? CBS Atlanta's Jennifer Mayerle investigates.
"We have kind of a tradition in the house. Breakfast with Broadway. That's what we do on Sunday, Breakfast with Broadway," Kathy Stone said.
Bill Stone's love of Broadway began at a young age, going to shows growing up in New York. He introduced his wife to his passion when they met 25 years ago.
"The first show I took her to see was CATS," Bill Stone said.
When they moved to the north Georgia mountains, they fed their love of the arts by subscribing to Theater of the Stars shows, even though it's nearly a two hour drive to the Fox.
"It's just a nice romantic getaway for the two of us. It's very special," Kathy Stone said. Bill Stone chimed in, "It's a chance for us to have a date and spend time together."
So understandably, the Stones were crushed when Theater of the Stars, or TOTS, canceled its season this summer. They had paid $512 to see four shows.
"It really became our entire social investment of the year. Without that we can't really afford to buy other tickets," Bill Stone said.
The Fox box office sold 6,246 single tickets. Those buyers received a refund within 5 to 10 days.
Another 3,200 tickets were sold to season ticket holders. That money went directly to Theater of the Stars. Subscribers like the Stones still haven't received a refund.
CBS Atlanta News found this isn't the first time Theater of the Stars defaulted. In 2008, TOTS teamed up with Dallas Summer Musicals and the now defunct American Musical Theater of San Jose to produce Disney's Tarzan. Both invested hundreds of thousands of dollars up front. Without warning, TOTS pulled the plug on the show. The already struggling American Musical Theater was forced to close its doors with the loss of the show and the $225,000 advance.
None of this comes as a surprise to Conway MacKenzie Senior Managing Director Greg Charleston, an expert in financial crisis management.
"The organization, from what I can tell from these tax returns, has been struggling for many years. In fact, in 2008 they lost $2.5 million and they're probably lucky to have survived that," Charleston said.
"Do you think there was a time earlier they should have shut their doors to be fiscally responsible?" Mayerle asked. "Well I'm an objective party and I would say yes," Charleston said.
In late November, TOTS filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, the most drastic form.
"What do you think happened to the money?" Mayerle asked the Stones.
"I think it's long gone," Kathy Stone said.
"Something happened to that money and I can't really know what it was, but it doesn't sound like the company was managed well," Bill Stone said.
CBS Atlanta News tried to reach TOTS to get answers, knocking on door after door. Former TOTS President Nick Manos saw Mayerle and closed his blinds.
The Stone's feel they and the other season ticket holders are just the latest casualty of an Atlanta company once held in high regard.
"It's depressing to sit there and know that somebody has our money that we could be using to enjoy this one thing that we both love so much," Kathy Stone said.
"There is a long list of creditors TOTS owe money to. They were invited to federal court on Tuesday, Dec. 10 to hear what tots bankruptcy means to them and they were able to ask questions. The missing ticket money we're talking about is roughly $1.2 million.
Neither the board president or TOTS bankruptcy attorney were willing to speak with us.
Wednesday night at 11 p.m., hear from the creditors and the new step being taken to stand up for those owed money.
Copyright 2013WGCL-TV(Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.
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