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BWW Feature: Desert Rose Playhouse is Raising Funds to Move to a New Location

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BWW Feature: Desert Rose Playhouse is Raising Funds to Move to a New Location
Robbie Wayne, producing artistic director
of Desert Rose Playhouse, & the "For Lease"
sign in the company's new space.

The Desert Rose Playhouse plans to move from its Rancho Mirage location to the former Zelda's Nightclub site at 611 S. Palm Canyon Drive, in Palm Springs. The company, the Coachella Valley's only theatre catering primarily to the LGBTQ+ population, is seeking to raise $20,000 in donations for the move before the end of the month.

According to Desert Rose's producing artistic director, Robbie Wayne, donors have already come forward with enough funds for him to sign the lease, specifically the amount of the first month's rent and a security deposit. However, money is still needed for moving expenses and reconfiguring the space.

Covid-19 has devastated the finances of many desert theatre companies, including 501(c)(3) community theatres such as Desert Rose. Desert Rose lost revenue for ticket sales for its production of BEAUTIFUL THING when it suspended performances on March 10, 2020, after a single weekend of a planned four-weekend run - it was one of the first performing arts facilities in the Coachella Valley to shut down because of coronavirus fears.

BWW Feature: Desert Rose Playhouse is Raising Funds to Move to a New Location
Mother (Christine Tringali Nunes) and Son
(Noah Arce) in a scene from the interrupted
production of BEAUTIFUL THING.

Desert Rose had occupied its space, the site of the former Commissary restaurant, near the corner of Frank Sinatra Drive and Route 111, since its first production in July 2012. After the Covid performance suspension, Mr. Wayne concluded that Desert Rose would be unable to reopen there for the foreseeable future because the auditorium is too small for social distancing. He ended the lease and began searching for new space.

Zelda's Nightclub closed in 2019 after the Palm Springs City Council suspended its conditional use permit. Fortunately, the space, which can accommodate a performing arts venue, was still available. The building's owner will include the fixtures in the lease, and will not charge for the first half year of rent, but Desert Rose has to pay a deposit and its first month's rent up front. Mr. Wayne obtained a leasing option, set to expire on August 1st, and set about trying to raise $20,000 by the deadline.

As of July 21st, Desert Rose has sufficient money on hand to pay the up-front lease costs, and Mr. Wayne hopes to obtain the key this weekend. However, the fundraising drive is still ongoing, because Desert Rose still needs funds to move into the space and to reconfigure it.

BWW Feature: Desert Rose Playhouse is Raising Funds to Move to a New Location
The cast of THOSE MUSCLEBOUND
COWBOYS FROM SNAKE PIT GULCH

Mr. Wayne told Broadway World that, although the exact seating layout is not yet final, "it will be very different from the old venue." The seating will be elevated, with front row seats on the main floor, high top tables in the back, and balcony box seats. Mr. Wayne says, "Sight lines will most definitely be better" than those in the Rancho Mirage location, which is welcome news to this reporter; I am under five feet tall and frequently had problems seeing the onstage action in the old theater.

Mr. Wayne, in one of the videos that he made about the fundraising campaign, explains that he wants to turn the new space into "an iconic theater that everyone can be proud of." He is hoping that Desert Rose's tenancy at the location will "last for years and years and years to come."

Mr. Wayne is requesting the LGBTQIA community, the theatregoing community, and anyone else interested in helping Desert Rose reach its goals, to circulate his two fundraising videos on social media. They are available at https://youtu.be/lhXNeG2q2rc and at https://www.dropbox.com/s/q7bfcnwop3z06hn/My%20Movie.mp4?dl=0 .

BWW Feature: Desert Rose Playhouse is Raising Funds to Move to a New Location
A scene from THE SUGAR WITCH

Also, for more information on the fundraising drive, people can contact Desert Rose at info@DesertRosePlayhouse.org or at 760-202-3000. The company's Web site is www.DesertRosePlayhouse.org .

To donate by check, please send it by U.S. mail to the Desert Rose Playhouse, PO Box 2256, Cathedral City, CA 92235-2256. Alternatively, donors may send funding electronically through Venmo, Paypal, and GoFundMe, at Venmo@DesertRose-Playhouse; Paypal.me/DesertRosePlayhouse; and www.Charity.GoFundMe.com/DR2020 , respectively.

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From This Author Audrey Liebross