Only act on Varsity Theater's 2017 calendar relocates gig

The Varsity Theater boasted an active concert calendar through last fall. Now, it's empty.

The Varsity Theater boasted an active concert calendar through last fall. Now, it's empty. Jay Boller

The Varsity Theater's events calendar is now completely empty. 

U.K. comedian Russell Howard, the lone act scheduled to play the Minneapolis venue in 2017, recently relocated his show to the Cedar Cultural Center.

The switch from Dinkytown to West Bank was apparently motivated by knowledge of the sex-absuse lawsuits filed against Varsity owner Jason McLean. Howard's publicist provided the following statement from Avalon Promotions: 

"Having found out about previously unknown allegations surrounding the Varsity we have now found another venue in Minneapolis."

Tickets sold to the Varsity show will be honored at the Cedar; more details here

McLean, 62, a former actor/teacher with the Children's Theatre Company Co., is alleged to have sexually abused five female students in the 1980s, according to civil lawsuits filed in 2015 and 2016 with Hennepin County District Court. 

Citing the cases against McLean, several international touring bands -- including punk-rockers Against Me!, metal group Baroness, and indie-rockers Warpaint -- relocated 2016 gigs initially scheduled for the Varsity. Twin Cities DJ Jake Rudh cut ties following calls to boycott his monthly Transmission dance night. The venue has not promoted a show via social media since last November. 

Things aren't going smoothly for McLean in the courtroom, either. He failed to appear for a deposition on January 24, according to court records.

“The bottom line is Jason McLean has gone on the legal lam,” Jeff Anderson, the Minneapolis attorney representing McLean's alleged victims, told City Pages. “We had served him with the subpoena and a notice of deposition, even though he’s gone to some length to evade service of process, and us, for almost a year and a half.”

The 101-year-old Varsity, which McLean reopened in 2005, is still courting private events. McLean also owns the nearby Loring Pasta Bar.

Numerous calls and emails to the Varsity requesting comment were not returned.