Financially Troubled Bucks County Playhouse Owner Ralph Miller Resigns
Bucks Country Playhouse owner/producer Ralph Miller has just announced that he will be resigning from his post of the historic theater after 35 years due to financial troubles. His struggles to maintain the theater financially began in 2008. He writes in an open letter to BroadwayWorld:
"It is with profound sadness that I must announce the end of my tenure as the owner/producer of the Bucks County Playhouse at the close of "A Christmas Carol" the final show of the 2010 season. These past 35 years have allowed me to know personally many faithful customers as well as the 4 generations of children who have "cut their theatrical teeth" on my stage. Unfortunately, the pressures of this recession and our mortgage lender have taken the drive from me that is needed to keep The Playhouse operating. Allow me to explain;
Stonebridge Bank, located in Exton, Pa with an office in Warminster, refinanced The Playhouse in the summer of 08 right before the stock market crash, which in turn, triggered the current recession. Although Stonebridge executives provided me with a $200,000.00 unsecured loan to accept their mortgage commitment and cancel my pending closing with PBB Bank, relations quickly turned negative as the cash flow of The Playhouse dramatically changed as seniors lost their retirement savings in the market. During the next 18 months, The Playhouse's devoted staff and myself were able to cut costs, add children's programming and bring The Playhouse finances back where the monthly mortgage obligations were being met. Unfortunately during the past 2 ½ years Stonebridge's financial statements show substantial losses and as a result, Stonebridge has aggressively and, in my opinion, unfairly targeted The Playhouse in an effort to satisfy federal bank examiners. In fact Stonebridge was able to borrow 11 million dollars in taxpayer TARP funds and has yet to return any of those funds to the treasury. It was my understanding that TARP banks were required to work with borrowers. Perhaps Stonebridge missed that memo.
I am sure in the next weeks and months the press and pending civil actions will bring all the facts to light regard The Playhouse and Stonebridge, however, The Playhouse has been the recipient of much unfavorable press over the past year and there are a few events between Stonebridge and myself that are important to set the record straight.
In May of 2010 and after 5 months of mortgage payments to Stonebridge, Stonebridge sent a monthly loan payment statement that was 3 times the amount due on my loan. This inaccurate statement caused the lawyers for The Playhouse and the bank to get involved in the monthly payment and the banks counsel, according to my lawyer, directed me to send the correct payment amount to him so it could be forwarded to the bank's lawyer. The payment was sent as directed but the payment was 7 days late and 2 days beyond the grace period. The bank used this maneuver to claim the payment in default and asked the court to allow them to foreclose on my loan. The court never heard from either lawyer regarded their redirection of the payment or saw the incorrect statement before allowing the bank to move forward on the foreclosure. Subsequently there was an agreement, which would allow a payment of $100,000.00 to reinstate the loan. The payment had to be made by 9/30/2010 to satisfy federal bank examiners according to Stonebridge. I arrived at the bank at 10 minutes before closing, was left sitting in the lobby until the bank closed, and then was met by my loan officer who refused to accept the payment and allow me to sign the agreement. The bank also stated on many occasions, if the loan were brought current the loan would be reinstated. Funds were available yesterday for that purpose, yet again, the bank refused to accept the money.
As I am forced to leave my position as caretaker of this wonderful theater, there are two persons who deserve to be recognized. First, Stephen Casey's talent and devotion to The Playhouse goes beyond anything that can be expected of an employee or a friend. The Playhouse has been successful because of Stephen and his love of theater. Thank you Stephen.