Evolving from bankruptcy, Prince Theater names a new board and director

Prince Music Theater, now out of bankruptcy, was known for developing artistic works.
Prince Music Theater, now out of bankruptcy, was known for developing artistic works.
Posted: March 16, 2013

As the next step in its post-bankruptcy evolution, the Prince Music Theater has named a new board of directors and an executive director.

James E. Hines, 35, is the new chief staffer, joining the Prince after three years as artistic administrator of the Mann Center for the Performing Arts.

The Prince, a former movie house on Chestnut Street, exited Chapter 11 on Oct. 15 after being won at bankruptcy auction by a group of business investors known collectively as 1412 Chestnut Street Corp. The Prince Music Theater - the arts organization as opposed to the piece of prime real estate - will continue to occupy the building, paying rent under a 25-year lease to the ownership group assembled by businessman Herb Lotman.

Lotman said his group would "reestablish the Prince as a premier destination in the city's performing arts, contemporary music, and film scene," presenting theater, comedy, classical and pop, jazz, and cabaret. Some of this will be rentals by outside groups; other events will be presented by the Prince itself. Shows and cabaret artists will be visiting in earnest starting in September, he said.

Eventually, the theater would like to develop its own programming, as it did under founder Marjorie Samoff - who, according to Lotman, is no longer on the board or staff, but will consult during a period of transition.

Lotman says the new board members are not investors - except for those who are partners in 1412 Chestnut St. Corp. - but philanthropists who will raise money and give money themselves.

"They are very well qualified to raise funds with their attachments to businesses in and around the city," he said. "They are also knowledgeable and bright, and aren't afraid to give their input."

He is board chairman, and his wife, Karen, is a member of the new board. The others are: David C. Bernstein, CEO, Rock-it Cargo USA; Van Billet, retired CFO, Berwind Corp.; philanthropist Barbara Brown-Ruttenberg; Winston Churchill, managing partner, SCP Partners; Robert A. Fox, CEO of RAF Industries; Thomas Gravina, CEO, Evolve IP; Ronald Kaiserman, a longtime Prince board member who engineered the deal; Gary Marshall, head for the Americas, Aberdeen Asset Management; venture capitalist Howard Morgan; Lee Tolbert, president and CEO, West Philadelphia Coalition of Neighborhoods and Businesses; Edward R. Kasses, president, Princeton Entertainment; and Lawrence J. Wilker, president and CEO, Theatre Dreams.

The last two are advising the board on artistic matters. Hines, who started at the Mann as an administrative assistant, worked with Kasses' Princeton Entertainment, which handles certain bookings for the Mann.

Theater renovations will begin in the summer. Lotman said it was too early to announce specific names for new programming.

"We're still getting all our shows and cabaret lined up," he said. "They're not going to be second class."


Contact Peter Dobrin at 215-854-5611 or pdobrin@phillynews.com. Read his blog at www.philly.com/artswatch.

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