A police investigation into "financial crimes" at the historic Palo Alto Children's Theatre has closed the theatre indefinitely, possibly for weeks, police Chief Lynne Johnson announced late Thursday. (View the press release.)
Johnson told the Weekly that an investigation has been quietly underway for several months, but that the scope of the irregularities has yet to be determined -- either as to the amount of funds or the individuals involved.
"It's a very complex investigation and we're sorting it all out," she said.
The investigation is a priority, she said.
"Because the theatre is much beloved and longtime employees there are much beloved in the community we want to conclude the investigation as soon as possible," she said.
Until then, she said additional information would have to wait in terms of the extent of the possible embezzlement or irregularities.
She said she hopes an announcement can be made next week as to when the Children's Theatre can reopen. But she indicated it could be closed for up to several weeks. Reopening will be "as soon as possible" consistent with the investigation, she said.
Johnson said she did not know the status of employees of the theater during the closure, and referred that question to the city's Human Relations department -- which could not be reached late Thursday.
The next scheduled performance, "The Giver," a production based on the Newberry Award-winning children's book, is scheduled to open Feb. 1 and will almost certainly be delayed.
Ironically, the story "tells of a world with no poverty, no crime and no sickness, where everyone is happy," according to the performance-schedule blurb. But when 12-year-old Jonas is chosen to be the "Receiver of Memories" he discovers the truth about his "perfect" world, the blurb states.
A year ago, the theatre observed its 75th anniversary with a major celebration, on which the Weekly based a cover story Jan. 19, 2007.