The Akron Woman's City Club announced Monday that the remainder of Coach House Theatre's 2018-19 season has been canceled.

Co-artistic directors Cassandra Capocci and Sergio Iriarte were hired in late March to complete the rest of the 90th anniversary season, after former artistic director JT Buck and the club -- the theater's parent nonprofit -- parted ways  that month in a dispute over paying the rights for the last two scheduled plays of the 2017-18 season.

Capocci and Iriarte finished out last season with newly selected productions of one-act plays in "Life Happens" and the drama "Moonlight and Magnolias." They were also hired to produce the five-play 2018-19 season, with contracts on a show-to-show basis.

"The AWCC has honored all contracts and met all financial obligations on time and in full on the plays presented but we will not be signing additional contracts with our current directors," the club said in a prepared statement Monday.

"The AWCC plans to continue operating in the future under another director. There will be an announcement when future plans are completed. ... The AWCC will not be making further announcements at this time," said the statement, signed by Akron Woman's City Club Board of Trustees President Patricia Brown.

Brown declined to comment further Monday.

The club said all season ticket-holders will receive refunds. The theater had about 50 subscribers for the 2018-19 season, according to Capocci.

She confirmed Monday by text that Coach House contracts were not renewed for the next show for her or her husband, Iriarte, who served as technical director.

"I don't have any information on what they are doing," Capocci said.

For this season, Capocci and Iriarte had produced the comedy "Making God Laugh" and "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever," which ended Sunday. Canceled shows for the remainder of the season are "Stage Fright," "Private Eyes" and a comedy whose title had not been announced.

Capocci and Iriarte put out a statement on the Coach House Theatre Facebook page Monday, which said in part: "We were asked to take over Coach House Theatre and received our keys on March 30. We told the AWCC that we'd finish the 90th season and then give them one full season after that. ... We kept the theater open and announced a 91st Season. We rebuilt goodwill in the community, rebuilt goodwill with patrons, and got things moving in the right direction. And now we’re moving on. The President and the Board of the AWCC have decided that they want to go a different direction."

The couple had been negotiating for the Coach House committee, made up of Akron Woman's City Club members, to take over fundraising, publicity, front-of-house volunteers, concessions, box office, phones, advertising and finances so Capocci and Iriarte could focus solely on production aspects for each show. Jane Delcamp, chairwoman of the theater committee, did not return a call Monday.

The artistic director's position has been a revolving door in the last 19 months at Coach House. Buck left the position after serving less than a year of his one-year contract. Before him, former artistic directors Nancy Cates and Terry Burgler stepped down in May 2017 after nine years at the theater's helm, due to a dispute concerning control of theater income. The club itself has struggled in recent years with declining membership and falling behind on property tax bills.

 

Arts writer Kerry Clawson may be reached at 330-996-3527 or kclawson@thebeaconjournal.com. Follow her at @KerryClawsonABJ or www.facebook.com/kclawsonabj.