"The Bijou Theatre Center Board of Trustees has shut down the historic theater.Interestingly, board Chairman Chuck Morris grew up living next door and across the street from two sets of my aunts and uncles, and he and I used to play together as kids. But that has no bearing on anything here ;)
The board fired the entire Bijou staff on Monday morning and suspended all operations, including the remainder of the 2003-04 Bijou-produced play season."
In a prepared statement sent by e-mail to the News Sentinel, board Chairman Chuck Morris said, "We are taking the difficult but necessary steps to put the Bijou on sound footing and to get out from under the debt burden that has hampered the theater for nearly three decades.
"Our plan is to suspend operations, eliminate the debt and re-emerge as the community asset the Bijou can and should be."
The Bijou has been an interesting venue to both perform and watch plays. I've done about three or four shows there, ranging from The Velveteen Rabbit to Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat to music directing Guys and Dolls. The dressing rooms were horrible, the heating/cooling was nonexistant and the stage was miniscule.
But it was the Bijou - the Bijou - and if you grew up in Knoxville, especially if you were involved in theatre in some way, you have a place in your heart for it.
I'm especially sad for the staff, a number of whom I've worked with in various productions over the years.
Good luck to the staff, and good luck to Chuck at finding a new financial footing, and good luck to the little theatre that, ultimately, couldn't....