The curtain won't rise on "Harvey" this fall. Without a stage, the show can't go on.
"Everybody is moaning, but we haven't been able to find a place," said Paula Langmead, business manager of Stage Door Dinner Theater.
The displaced company had cast "Harvey" for its fall production at Wilhelm Caterers on Route 140 in Westminster.
Three performances of the comedy, set to run weekends through October, were already sold out.
"A man came up to me at my son's football game and told me he wanted 150 tickets," said Joan Crooks, a member of the company. "I could have cried."
That number would have practically filled the theater, which usually played to audiences of about 200.
Two months ago, when members met with the caterer to set firm dates, they learned Saturdays had to be dark days for the production.
"They wouldn't give us Saturdays," said Ms. Langmead. "That's our biggest night."
Catering company president Larry Wilhelm said that it was a question of "couldn't, not wouldn't."
"I loved the shows," he said. "I hope at sometime in the future, we could do it again."
Despite portable dividing walls for his dining facility, "We couldn't do dinner theater and another function," he said.
On Saturdays, Mr. Wilhelm said he has to commit to wedding receptions -- which usually means a band or a disc jockey.
"The band really distracted our audiences," said Ms. Langmead.
The theater drew its biggest crowds, usually sellouts, on Saturday evenings, she said.
"Those audiences made up for the light Sunday matinees," she said.
Cutting performances back to 10 and eliminating the busiest night would seriously decrease profits, Ms. Crooks said.
Ms. Langmead works behind the scenes, while her husband, Harry, usually takes a part on stage.
The company has several successful productions to its credit, including "Rumors," which ran last March at Wilhelm's.
"We really enjoy putting on the productions," Ms. Langmead said. "People were really getting to know us and now, suddenly, we have stopped. I hope we aren't losing momentum and we can pick up again in the spring."
The Langmeads and their partners, Dennis and Joan Crooks, have combed the county for suitable theater space.
"We would take anywhere in the general vicinity, where we could have accessibility, affordability and enough room," Ms. Crooks said.
Carroll County really needs a place for the performing arts, she said.
"We set out to offer quality dinner theater and ended last spring on a good note," she added.
A successful run with "Rumors" encouraged the troupe.
"We all had such a good time and the audiences enjoyed it," Ms. Crooks said. But the fall season will slip away without "Harvey." With any luck, though, the company can pull the rabbit out of the hat in the spring.
"We are out for fall, but we will still do 'Harvey' this spring, if we can find a place," Ms. Crooks said.