Pat Boone Family Theater's
Former Illusionist Speaks Out
March 25, 2012 - By Discover Myrtle Beach
It was supposed to be Myrtle Beach’s newest family theater; music, magic and laid back social gathering.
But marred with financial trouble, personnel changes and family dispute, financial troubles, the Pat Boone Family Theater’s opening seems more and more like an illusion than reality.
So what exactly happened to the Pat Boone Family Theater? We take a look at the theater’s short and turbulent history, through official reports, staff interviews and eyes of the theater’s former headliner.
PART ONE: THE DREAM COMES TO BE
It was announced in the new 600-seat venue, baring legendary recording artist and performer Pat Boone’s name was first announced in January 2010. The theater was supposed to headline an illusionist and offer musical acts, including Boone himself. But it’s over two years later and the doors at the theater remain closed.
After the initial announcement, silence was the only sound surrounding the new entertainment venue; no announcements, no construction; just hopes and dreams.
It seems the slow economy took it’s toll on the would-be-theater, but life presented itself in the summer of 2011, when Liquid Metal Productions announced that construction of the Pat Boone Family Theater was underway and there was now a target Grand Opening of August 2011.
Renovation were underway at a cost of $5 million and would give audiences an intimate experience, were only fifty feet would separate the back row of the audience with the stage.
Headlining would be world-class illusionist and mentalist, Morgan Strebler, who would perform at the theater, along with a variety of music acts, with Pat Boone himself performing two weeks out of the year.
Glenn Milligan, CEO of Liquid Metal Holdings, said, "It did take us a while to get here. But we're here. Our families are here and our children will be going to your schools. We are here for the long haul."
Everything seems to be on target as construction began roaring through the theater, which was located in the old NASCAR Grille building on Highway 17 and 21st Avenue North.
We were invited to tour the theater during the construction process. Remnants of the former tenant were quickly disappearing as crews worked to bring the theater to life.
But behind the scenes, things were not going so smooth.
PART TWO: THE DREAM BECOMES AN ILLUSION
Money issues, decision-making and finger pointing were quickly eroding at the future success of the new theater.
As quickly as the announcement came that the theater was preparing to open, another announcement came just a few short months later that headliner, Morgan Strebler was parting ways with theater.
In a press release by Strebler this past September 2011, the illusionist announced that he was relinquishing his ownership percentage within Liquid Metal Holdings. While stating that his decision was a difficult one, and that he wishes the Pat Boone Family Theater the best of luck moving forward with their future endeavors, a closer look at the press release revealed something more.
Also mentioned was Strebler’s love for the Myrtle Beach area; something the illusionist also told us in a previous one-on-one interview, while touring the theater. He also mentioned that he planned to return to Myrtle Beach when his non-compete clause is up.
Reading that portion of the surprising announcement, it was clear “something” was going on behind the curtain, without releasing any details.
Following Strebler’s announcement was a press release by the theater, which added to the undertones of problems from inside.
In a statement by the theater, CEO Glenn Milligan said, “Morgan is a talented illusionist but, as his father, my first concern has to be for Morgan and his health I believe that his return to Missouri is the best thing for him at this time. The Pat Boone Family Theater is in the process of firming up discussions with another illusionist act and we are still on track to open at the beginning of October.”
A follow up email by the theater to Discover Myrtle Beach at the time also mentioned creative issues that had to be dealt with directly.
With multiple reasons for Strebler’s departure now in play, the question of if and when the theater would open was resonating.
Fast forward to March 2012. With no apparent signs of construction or news from the theater, Strebler contacted Discover Myrtle Beach and at least one other local news organization for an interview about his future plans, what he believes will happen to the Pat Boone Theater and the problems which led to his decision to hand in his resignation and walk away from his ownership in the company.
QUESTIONS & ANSWERS WITH ILLUSIONIST MORGAN STREBLER
DMB: I actually talked to you quite a bit, as things were getting closer to the theater’s opening. So it came as a surprise when I read your press release.
DMB: Like what?
DMB: Did the board see this going on?
DMB: So they were running out of money?
DMB: What do you mean?
DMB: Was that a money issue also?
DMB: So what ultimately led to your resignation?
DMB: So why would they issue a statement about you leaving for health reasons.
DMB: But health issues seem a bit specific.
DMB: I saw your Facebook update. It looks like you lost a lot of weight now.
DMB: What do you think will happen with the theater?
DMB: But they have to have money to continue to pay the lease, right?
DMB: Do you and your father speak at all now?
DMB: I also saw that you mentioned your non-compete clause was almost up. Are you planning on coming back?
THE PAT BOONE FAMILY THEATER’S RESPONSE
Strebler hasn’t been quiet about what happened at the theater. He also spoke to WMBF News in Myrtle Beach after our interview and said some similar comments. While we were writing our article, the story broke on WMBF. We then contacted officials at the theater. We mentioned our article, which was in production asked if they had any comments to add or if they had any comments to the WMBF News story.
The theater manager said in an email to Discover Myrtle Beach, that there was no new story, just the ramblings of a former employee. As for the theater, there is no news and we would be among those who would be contacted when the time comes. We were also provided a formal statement regarding the news telecast:
Everyone here at Liquid Metal Holdings (“LMH”) is both shocked and deeply saddened by the false and baseless comments made by Morgan Strebler in a WMBF interview yesterday. Mr. Strebler, who resigned his position with LMH on September 1, 2011, made these statements without any current, updated information concerning the Pat Boone Family Theater (PBFT), its progress, or its financial status. Further, the comments he made to WMBF regarding the use of funds were completely false and wholly unsupported by the facts, including a statement he made about LMH using $50,000 to purchase a van.
As disclosed upon our arrival in Myrtle Beach, Morgan is my son. In reality, his behavior and comments are more directed at me, personally, and not LMH. Like any father and son, we have our disagreements and I choose to not air them in the media.
Finally, at such time as we have a substantive update about our grand opening, we will hold a press conference and share that information with the media and, most importantly, the Myrtle Beach Community.
Having personally seen plans for the theater, its construction and its entertainment, it’s clear there was a true vision the Pat Boone Family Theater. Would may have been or may still come to pass is unknown. I’m sure along with us at Discover Myrtle Beach, there are many in the Myrtle Beach community that want to see the vision of the Pat Boone Family Theater become a reality.
As for what definitive issues lead to the theater’s current stateâ€¦I am reminded of the last line of the "Nights in White Satin" poem by the Moody Blues.
"But we decide which is right, and which is an illusion."
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