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Onyx Theatre on verge of closing

The drama has moved offstage at the Onyx Theatre.

A key venue in Las Vegas’ local theater scene, the intimate 90-seat performance space in the Rack, a Commercial Center fetish shop, may shut down at the end of the month.

Artistic director Brandon Burk announced his departure from the theater, following a 2½-year run, in a Facebook post this week.

In his post, Burk said he was working to find another venue for a scheduled January production of “The Crucible,” after which “we can move forward with more of the productions we had planned for the Onyx next year.”

Performances of “Santa Claus Conquers the Martians” (at the Onyx through Dec. 27) and “A Christmas Carol” — which opens Friday and plays at the Onyx through Dec. 28 — will continue as scheduled, according to Tom Conroy, chief financial officer of the company that owns the Onyx and the Rack.

The Rack will close at the end of the year, following the store’s current going-out-of-business sale, Conroy said.

But “the theater is here” and the landlord is seeking an operator to run the Onyx for a six-month period, he added.

Sin City Opera officials announced Tuesday that they are shifting this season’s two remaining productions from the Onyx to the Clark County-operated Winchester Cultural Center.

“We had noticed the problems coming — things were not running as smoothly” at the Onyx recently, said Ginger Land-van Buuren, the troupe’s director of marketing and promotions.

Sin City Opera was already contemplating a move from the Onyx next season because “we were growing out of that space,” she said, but the company decided to make the move early.

“It’s a sad thing for the community,” Land-van Buuren said of the possible Onyx shutdown.

Paul Atreides, Review-Journal theater critic and columnist, agreed.

For more than a decade, “they hosted so many different performances and productions” presented by such local troupes as Poor Richard’s Players, Table 8 Productions and Off-Strip Productions, he said. “There was so much they were doing in there.”

Among the recent productions staged at the Onyx: the Pulitzer Prize-winning drama “How I Learned to Drive,” the Stephen Sondheim musical “Merrily We Roll Along” and the Neil Simon comedy “California Suite.”

Although Las Vegas has other small theaters, from downtown’s Art Square (home of Cockroach Theatre) to Las Vegas Little Theatre’s studio, “I think it’s going to be very tough to replace” the Onyx, Atreides said.

The theater’s small seating capacity made it “a fiscal hurdle to do large-budgeted shows” such as musicals, according to Troy Heard, Table 8’s artistic director.

But the Onyx’s possible shutdown still represents “a huge loss to the community,” he said. “There are so many small companies that worked out of that venue. We don’t have enough consistent venues.”

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