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Grassroots Effort To Save Larchmont Playhouse Accelerates

Left to right: Jessica Veith, Ellen Zuckert and Elizabeth Bradley outside Larchmont Playhouse.
Left to right: Jessica Veith, Ellen Zuckert and Elizabeth Bradley outside Larchmont Playhouse. Photo Credit: Jeanne Muchnick
A grassroots effort is behind the effort to save Larchmont Playhouse.
A grassroots effort is behind the effort to save Larchmont Playhouse. Photo Credit: Jeanne Muchnick

LARCHMONT, N.Y. -- A group of concerned Larchmont residents are doing all they can to raise awareness about the plight of the Larchmont Playhouse.

With a lot of misinformation and confusion on the topic -- the cinema had been part of a Kickstarter effort by Pelham Picture House which fell through -- a lot of people still don't realize the effort to save the circa 1931 theater, a longtime community fixture, is still on the table.

But the deadline to raise $1.4 million is fast approaching.

Four of the people spearheading the effort -- Elizabeth Bradley, Vicki Rosenstreich, Jessica Veith and Ellen Zuckert -- spent most of their weekend canvasing the Farmer's Market and standing in front of the theater handing out flyers with details about all that's going on. There is also an online petition they are recommending area residents sign -- and donate to.

They have until Thursday, June 30 to present a viable financial option to the owner, who lives out of state.

So far, 185 residents have pledged a total of $153,000.

Their ultimate goal, said Zuckert, is to get several leadership pledges of $100,000 or more. This money will only be collected, she stressed, if the theater is operated as a non-profit with 501(c)(3) status.

According to Zuckert, there are two bids ranging from $1.2 to $1.4 million with at least one of the bids proposing to convert the building into offices. "If we hope to succeed, we need to have at least $1.2 million pledged -- not actual checks -- before June 30, a deadline communicated by the broker," she writes on the Save the Larchmont Playhouse Facebook page.

The four women had been working independently on saving the theater -- Zuckert and friends in an email campaign and Facebook page dating to June 2; Bradley with a change.org petition --before joining forces in this grassroots effort they believe can only benefit the community.

"This is an opportunity to transform the Playhouse into a center that shows independent films, foreign movies and documentaries as well as family programming and first-run films a la the Pelham Picture House or the independently-run Bedford Playhouse," said Bradley. "We've seen other models in Westchester that show that this can be done."

The four stress that saving the Playhouse not only preserves the character of the town, but could also help jumpstart the revitalization needed to increase foot traffic and eventually attract new tenants to empty store fronts.

"The Playhouse is an iconic site within our town and it is at the heart of what makes Larchmont so appealing: it is a walkable town with historic charm," said Veith. "To lose our local, neighborhood theater and its landmark building, would leave a great void."

Those interested in pledging can email SaveLarchmontMovies@gmail.com or contact Zuckert at ezuckert@gmail.com. All pledges will be kept confidential. You can sign the petition at https://www.change.org/p/save-the-larchmont-playhouse .

For more information, go to the Save the Larchmont Playhouse Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/SaveLarchmontMovies/ .

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