After nearly five decades as one of the mainstays of Long Island theater, the curtain has come down for good on BroadHollow Theatre Company as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
"We haven't taken a dollar in since March," said Arthur Longobardo, owner of the company with his wife, Laura, since April 2019. He added that BroadHollow, which operated out of Elmont Memorial Library and BayWay Arts Center in East Islip, was dealing with five rental spaces. "The landlords were good for the first couple of months, but by June they all wanted their money."
Longobardo said that BroadHollow's monthly costs of operation were close to $30,000. While the theater did receive a government grant, 60% of the money went toward payroll.
BroadHollow's previous owner, Robert O'Neill, who has been with the group since the mid-1970s, said he was deeply saddened when he heard of the closing. "I consider myself blessed to have had the opportunity to work with so many gifted and talented individuals who gave of their time and talents to make BroadHollow the success that it was," he said. "It was an honor and a privilege to be part of such a wonderful organization and my family and I will be forever grateful for the memories we take with us."
For most of its run, BroadHollow presented a mix of musicals, comedies, dramas and mysteries. For at least the past five years, musicals, which generally draw larger audiences on Long Island, had been its primary form of entertainment. Another staple had been its day-repertory troupe, which presented shows such as "The Diary of Anne Frank" for local students.
"That was a big part of our thing was the day rep with schools," Longobardo said. "When the schools closed, we didn't have that."
BroadHollow's situation was not helped in June when it faced backlash on social media for its Facebook post following the killing of George Floyd. The post, which began, “At the Broadhollow Theater, we do not tolerate racism, violence or bullying of any kind,” also included the sentence “We in no way condone the apparent murder of George Floyd." It was deleted the next day followed by a new post claiming that BroadHollow's Facebook account had been hacked.
Longobardo said he is just waiting for the lawyers to finalize the closing, though it's not a done deal for his wife and him. "We'll probably be paying this off for another four years," he said.