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Creditors meeting set for Palace of Mystery

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by Karen E. Culp

SBJ Staff

The Chapter 11 bankruptcy case of Palace of Mystery Inc. will have a first meeting of creditors at 2:30 p.m. Feb. 24 at the U.S. Courthouse in Springfield. Palace of Mystery is the corporate identity of the Kirby VanBurch magic show, performed at the former Gettysburg Theater.

Palace of Mystery Inc. filed Jan. 19 for protection from its creditors under Chapter 11 (reorganization) of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code. Two days later, on Jan. 21, VanBurch's Beyond Belief Productions Inc. and the owners of Branson's Magical Mansion the former home of VanBurch's show agreed to dismiss a lawsuit without prejudice regarding the placement of another magic show in the Magical Mansion venue.

Beyond Belief was a corporate identity for VanBurch's magic show when he performed at the Magical Mansion. He moved to the Palace of Mystery in 1998.

Beyond Belief filed suit against Branson's Magical Mansion, O. Gene Bicknell, Gary Snadon and Michael Bicknell when it brought in a competing magic act "in contravention of the court's preliminary injunction," according to the case file.

Melinda Saxe, known as the First Lady of Magic, performed at the Magical Mansion in 1998. She is not returning in 1999.

Syncor Entertainment Inc. announced Feb. 12 it is taking over management of the theater from the defendants in VanBurch's suit.

The former Magical Mansion, now known as the Grand Mansion, will have the 30-member Spirit of the Dance, an Irish dance touring company, perform there in 1999, according to Syncor President Rob Hall Jr.

The suit brought by VanBurch's company said that "discovery has shown that Gene Bicknell has been financially supporting (Melinda) Saxe's show and has controlled the business of Expressway Productions, which purportedly owns and produces (Saxe's) show." The suit was filed Dec. 27, 1997.

The Palace of Mystery, or former Gettysburg Theater, was once the site of a Civil War re-enactment show. The company that produced that show and owned the theater filed for bankruptcy in 1995, and in February of 1998, Thirty-Five LLC purchased the building from Mercantile Bank, which had acquired it in foreclosure in 1997.

A deed of trust filed in Taney County on Feb. 13, 1998, shows that Mercantile loaned Thirty-Five LLC $1.6 million, secured by the theater property.

Another deed of trust, dated Jan. 21, 1999, shows the bank loaned Thirty-Five LLC an additional $312,200 on that date, also secured by the same property. That's two days after Palace of Mystery's Chapter 11 filing and on the same date as Beyond Belief's settlement of its suit against Magical Mansion.

The previous owners of the Gettysburg and Mercantile Bank are still involved in litigation. The theater's previous owners filed for bankruptcy protection in 1995 when Mercantile began foreclosure proceedings against the property.

Mercantile is attempting to collect the remainder of what it is owed on a loan made to the Marsh family. The loan had been secured by the Gettysburg.

The bank is still owed $510,870.88, plus attorneys' fees, according to a motion for summary judgment filed in the case Dec. 9, 1998.

Mercantile collected a portion of what it was owed when it sold the Gettysburg to its current owners, Powell said, but the Marsh family still owes approximately $511,000 on the note.

The bank is awaiting a judgment on its motion and will attempt to collect the remainder of the money at that time. The case was originally filed in December of 1995.

The defendants remaining in the case are Roger and Patricia Marsh, Andrew Marsh, John and Jennifer Marsh, Loren C. Marsh and E. Rosalie Marsh. The suit says that on Aug. 8, 1995, the defendants guaranteed payments of all loans made to the Gettysburg Theatre LLC.

Mark Powell, attorney for Mercantile in the case, said the Marsh family has some defenses against Mercantile's attempts to collect, and the family is in the process of filing those. He said he is unsure when a judgment might be made on the motion for summary judgment.

INSET CAPTION:

Syncor Entertainment is taking over management of the Magical Mansion[[In-content Ad]]

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