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Sale Of Hillsboro’s Venetian Theatre Sends Bag & Baggage Packing

A buyer has emerged for Hillsboro’s historic Venetian Theatre.

Bag & Baggage Productions presents A KBNB Kristmas Karol at the Venetian Theatre in Hillsboro.

Bag & Baggage Productions presents A KBNB Kristmas Karol at the Venetian Theatre in Hillsboro.

Casey Campbell Photography

The Venetian has welcomed audiences since 1911 under various owners and names. In 2007, Denzil Scheller bought and renovated it. Shortly after, Bag & Baggage Theatre moved in as a resident company.

But now Scheller said he’s getting older and wants to sell. He would not identify the buyer.

Bag & Baggage knew for years a sale was coming, and it raised $1.3 million for a new building. But in what founder Scott Palmer characterized as an “unfortunate accident of timing,” the sale came together quickly and the new owner could not guarantee them performance space. Palmer says two shows will be canceled or moved.

“It’s a pretty big hit,” he said. “We don’t believe it’s fatal.”

A May production of the comedic farce “Noises Off” has been canceled, at an estimated cost of $80,000–$85,000.

Palmer said the cancellation was a painful decision and will probably mean furloughs for employees, but he said Bag & Baggage had few choices.

“The way I describe it is it’s like you take $80,000, which is about what we’d spend on a production of “Noises Off,” and you go to Vegas,” Palmer said. “And you put it down on black on the roulette wheel. And the guy spins the wheel, puts the ball in the wheel and says, ‘Oh, by the way, we’re not sure black is available.’”

Palmer added: “There’s no guarantee the venue will be ready for us and we can’t run risk of spending the money with zero guarantee we’re going to be able to sell tickets.”

A loss of that magnitude, Palmer said, would jeopardize Bag & Baggage’s plan to move into its new building at the corner of NE 4th Avenue and Main Street when renovations are complete.

A March production about the Bronte sisters will move to spot that’s a lot smaller — but possibly more appropriate to the subject matter — The Hillsboro Public Library.

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