(Debbie Davidson, owner of Barnyard Gateway)
The curtain is set to come down on The Barnyard Theatre at Gateway on December 31, 2016, when the venue will stage its final show. The popular mall theatre has become an institution with locals and holiday-makers alike after becoming the first fully-fledged commercial Barnyard franchise.
Fifteen years on and 105 major productions later, The Barnyard Theatre Productions, which owns and manages the franchise and produces the shows, served notice on the Gateway ownership that they were terminating the franchise.
“It is with a very heavy heart, and a great deal of sadness, that we have to inform our loyal patrons that The Barnyard Theatre at Gateway will be permanently be closing its big wooden doors on 31 December 2016. The Barnyard Theatre Productions has informed us that they are terminating our franchise as of this date, a move which came as an enormous shock. After a desperate bid to keep the venue going for at least another year was unsuccessful, unfortunately we’ve reached the point where the show cannot go on,” said Debbie Davidson, the owner of the Gateway venue.
The Barnyard Theatre at Gateway shook up the Durban supper-theatre scene, when they opened the 470-seater venue on November 2, 2001. Locals warmed to the informal venue immediately, and, a mere 11 months after opening, The Barnyard Theatre at Gateway was the recipient of Marketing Excellence Award from the Institute of Marketing Management. This was followed by the theatre’s owner, Debbie Davidson, being acknowledged for the role she has played in the venue’s success when she was awarded the Umhlanga Business Personality of the Year award by the Durban Chamber of Commerce.
Durbanites also showed an outpouring of concern and support when The Barnyard Theatre at Gateway was severely damaged in a fire that shut down the venue for a week after the opening of its year-end show in October, 2010.
Commenting on the loss of the venue to Durbanites, Debbie Davidson said, “I’d like to thank our many very loyal patrons who embraced the venue from the day the doors opened, who took ownership of it, and who have kept us going for more than 15 years. I’m sorry that I’m no longer able to provide you with the entertainment, service land pizzas that kept you coming back! I’ll miss interacting with each of you in the venue. We’ve still got a jam-packed programme in the next month, so I’d love to see you at The Barnyard Theatre at Gateway for one last time before the curtain comes down for the final time.”