So sister called brother to tell him about how impressed she was with the Berkshire theaters, and what she had learned about the theaters’ financial situations. The siblings agreed to make the gifts, in memory of their mother, Mary Anne Gross, a regular theatergoer in Milwaukee and an occasional visitor to the Berkshires, who died in December.
Each theater has already received a check from the Gross family to cover expenses through the end of the year — $732,000 to Barrington Stage and $681,000 to Berkshire Theater Group — as well as a pledge for another $350,000 each if matched by other donors, which would cover their expenses for the first three months of next year.
“Basically the goal was to get them through the winter,” Mrs. Bassman said. “They were both in debt from the work they did this summer, they both have multiple buildings, and they have tapped out their donors. They’re still going to have a tough time.”
Mr. Gross, 60, is the co-founder and managing director at Adage Capital Management. He is also helping several other theaters through the pandemic — the Umbrella Arts Center, in his hometown, Concord, Mass.; the Grand Center for Arts & Culture, in New Ulm, Minn., where another sister is the executive director; and the Garry Marshall Theater, in Burbank, Calif., where the producer is Joseph Leo Bwarie, who played Frankie Valli in the Broadway production of “Jersey Boys” off and on for several years. (Mr. Gross got to know Bwarie while helping “Jersey Boys” raise money for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.)
“We’re going to need this kind of art on the other side of Covid,” Mr. Gross said. “The first day I get vaccinated and I can go to a show, I’m going, and I don’t want them not to have a show.”
Although the Gross siblings and their mother had occasionally attended productions at the two theaters over the years, neither Ms. Boyd nor Kate Maguire, the artistic director and chief executive at Berkshire Theater Group, had met them. The administrators have in the past received surprise gifts — Ms. Maguire talks of the occasional unexpected bequest, for example, and Ms. Boyd still remembers another usher who gave her a $50,000 check — but not of this size.