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  • Writer's pictureAnthony Chase

Shea's situation evolves rapidly

and the New Phoenix Theater Building is sold

In a Friday afternoon development, a high level Shea's staff member has reportedly been fired and a third board member has taken a hike from the embattled theater. The fired staff member had been particularly vocal at yesterday's staff meeting with the board, going so far as to ask that those trustees who support Shea's president Michael Murphy, who has been accused of abusive behavior, step down His firing seems to serve as warning to others: stay in line and ask no questions.

One begins to wonder if this board is doing Shea's President Michael Murphy any favors with their high-handed and arguably callous dealings with members of the staff. The conflict began with staff complaints that Murphy was demeaning to staff members, temperamental, and prone to angry outbursts. Yesterday's meeting was meant to map out a way to retain Murphy while limiting his direct staff interactions and allowing for a six-month trial period of healing and evaluation. Instead, the meeting was reportedly volatile and contentious, and the board approach was notable for being insensitive and high-handed to the point of being offensive.

The board has been uncommunicative, declining requests to answer questions from the press [see Mark Sommers extensive Buffalo New coverage], preferring instead to release a puffed up statement about Murphy's "expanded role," that to anyone familiar with the operation of a theater seemed to lack substance and to actually describe a demotion.

Word is that Murphy will not attend the Shea's gala this Sunday, but one begins to wonder, will anyone else from the Shea's staff show up? There's that scratchy throat that's been going around you know ...

In other news, we hear that the New Phoenix Theater building on Johnson Park has been sold. The buyer, we're told, wants to continue to operate a theater from the building and may be looking to lease the space to local companies. Maybe he needs a resident company!

a neon green building in an urban neighborhood
The New Phoenix Theater building on Johnson Park


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