WAUKEGAN, IL (CelebrityAccess MediaWire) — The 77 year old Genesee Theatre will unveil to the public it’s $23 million face lift this evening when comedian Bill Cosby takes the stage.
The old vaudeville movie house has been upgraded with $1 million worth of chandeliers, a new marquee and a top of the line sound system, yet some locals are wary of remodeled venue. The Chicago Daily Herald reports that the Taskforce on Waukegan Neighborhoods (TOWN) is requesting an independent audit of the Genesee to discover precisely how the project grew to $10 million over the initial budget. The watchdog group is also concerned about a projected $500,000 revenue shortfall for the theatre.
“It’s the most beautiful white elephant in America,” said ex-Genesee project Manager Ray Shepardson. “It breaks my heart.”
In September SMG Management was hired to take over for Shepardson, who is known nation-wide for turning run-down theatres into cash cows. Shepardson originally planned special promotions like two for one ticket sales and hoped to book as many as 300 shows per year, however city officials believed the Genesee could only be booked for about 100 to 125 shows annually.
“The financial aspect was not going to work,” David Rovine – the SMG employee who took the reigns after Shepardson left – told the Daily Herald. “You can’t be doing 2-for-1s and giving tickets away and then paying the act.”
Whether or not the venue makes money one thing all parties agree on is the success of the rehabilitation project. "I am just extremely delighted with the finished product at the theater," Waukegan Mayor and lifelong resident Richard Hyde said. "It's just an amazing building. It reminds me of when I would go there as a young boy." –by CelebrityAccess Staff Writers