Morse Theatre's future uncertain

Morse Theatre and The Century Public House in Rogers Park will be closed until further notice, management says.

Devin McGhee, manager of The Century Public House, says it will be weeks before it's clear whether the theater and adjoining restaurant will be able to continue in business.

McGhee would not comment on the specifics of the building's closing but says Rogers Park Entertainment Ventures, Inc., the venue's current manager, still has a lease and investors want to re-open.

Management had a "smooth, operational groove" in the past few months and business was good, McGhee says.

But a dispute last month between investors and the management team threatened to close the five-month-old music venue, which is located at 1328 W. Morse in Rogers Park. The gastropub is adjacent to the theater.

Last month, Ald. Joe Moore (D-49) attempted to mediate between the two parties, but was not able to keep the theater operating.

Moore's chief of staff, Betsy Vandercook, says his office is "guardedly  optimistic" that the theater will reopen.

Moore could not be reached for comment.

According to public records, the property is owned by 1328 Morse LLC. That company is in turn managed by Rogers Park Investments, LLC, according to filings at the Illinois Secretary of State's office. Jane Feerer, listed as the manager of Rogers Park Investments, said she knew nothing about the theater when contacted by a reporter.

Fans of the venue, including Jane Granner, are wary of recent developments. She has attended several shows there, including performances by her Indie-rock musician boyfriend Paris Delane.

"I hope that somehow this venue can stay open because he has great plans for future shows there," says Granner.

Granner is an interior designer and enjoys the artistic value of Morse Theatre.

"I have seen all the details of this place including all of the areas where they record," she says. "They have done a magnificent job bringing this place back to the feeling it had when it was a silent movie house."

Earlier this month, the theater held its last scheduled concert.  Over a hundred people attended Scottish folk artist Dougie MacLean's show.

Discuss

THOMAS WESTGARD, 03-31-2009

So, Devin McGhee is out and doesn't have much to say about it, Jane Feerer refused to comment, and the Alderman's office wasn't prepared to make a statement either. I'm not really sure this adds up to a story. Wouldn't this be one to hold until you had some more information?

GEOFF DOUGHERTY, 04-01-2009

Thomas,

Following your logic would allow the folks at the Morse to more or less dictate whether we write a story.

Far better to make the calls, do the reporting, and give the reader the most complete information we can come up with -- which includes the fact that none of the principals are talking.

Draw your own conclusions from that.