Life imitated art for the Rossland Light Opera Players when the proceeds for its crime-themed dinner theatre were stolen from the cash box during the performance Saturday night.
With a sold out house of 124 guests at Miner’s Hall in Rossland duplicating the premiere in Fruitvale one week earlier, the night was going as planned for the company’s performance of “Murder at Crooked House.”
But after the curtain fell so did the spirits of the 20-member cast and crew when they discovered the $3,300 they had taken in for the night was stolen.
It was a massive hit for the volunteer-run organization, relying upon the money to keep the 60-year-old company afloat.
“Thankfully, it wasn’t a murder that happened,” said Dawn Graham, the opera company’s president. “We love performing, but in order to have that ability to perform, we have to” pay the costs to do so.
RCMP are investigating the matter, but on Tuesday Graham issued a written public plea to the perpetrator who pilfered the purse, asking them to return it. Graham wasn’t looking for retribution or justice, just hope for remorse and conscience.
“I’d like to make a request on behalf of this group of decent, hard-working performers: If you have the money in your possession, please put it in an envelope, marked Rossland Light Opera Players, and deposit in the overnight box at the Rossland Credit Union,” she said. “No questions asked.”
The production cost a great deal to produce, around $5,000, because of the cost of hall rentals, royalties, printing, costumes and sets, Graham explained. That now means the money they lost in the theft will come out of their proceeds from last year, putting the volunteer company behind the eight ball.
“Our non-profit organization was left with a very big loss, both financially and emotionally,” she said.
The theft also means the company must now dig deeper into their already shallow coffers to be able to create a main stage show that meets the caliber of all the shows they have produced over the last 60 years.
The main stage show costs about $15,000 to produce, and was typically funded through a combination of fundraising and grants.
If the stolen money is not returned, however, the show will go on (in spring), said Graham.
“And our main stage show, “Pride and Prejudice” will be fantastic, despite (the thief’s) actions,” she said.