ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
ST. LOUIS — The St. Louis Archdiocese today blocked the opening night of "Sex, Drugs and Rock & Roll" at the Ivory Theatre after telling a judge the musical revue violated an agreement prohibiting adult entertainment in the former Catholic church.
St. Louis Circuit Judge Philip D. Heagney issued a temporary restraining order today and scheduled a hearing Friday to consider a permanent order. Carondelet theater was previously the St. Boniface Catholic Church before it was closed in 2005 and sold to developers.
Developer Pete Rothschild, one of the theater’s owners, said he and his lawyer didn’t learn of the hearing until late this afternoon and got to the courthouse too late to attend. Despite its title, Rothschild described the play as "an innocuous show" and hopes to show the judge a videotape of the revue at Friday’s hearing.
New Line Theatre said the play includes songs from musicals that deal with sex, drugs and rock music. Although some of the songs contain strong language, Rothschild said there is no nudity. He doesn’t believe the play violates the deed restriction.
"Before we bought the church, we discussed it with the church’s real estate guy," he said. "We thought they didn’t want strippers or that kind of business. I can understand their wish to prevent something truly objectionable from happening in formerly consecrated space but this isn’t offensive."Rothschild and his partner, Mike Allen, purchased the church complex for roughly $1.1 million and spent over $800,000 fashioning it into a theater.
A special warranty deed signed by Allen, Rothschild and a representative of the St. Louis City Catholic Church Real Estate Corporation restricted the new owners from using the St. Boniface name. It also bars use of the former church for a wide range of activities, including "live performances directed to an adult audience rather than the general public."