Coronavirus pandemic forces theater groups to face economic difficulties

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If there has been a constant theme in the announcements of cancellations and postponements of theater and concerts due to the coronavirus pandemic, it is that it will create hardship for the arts world.

Local theater groups are offering refunds for shows that have been postponed or canceled, although they would appreciate it if refunds could be a donation to the organization.

Center for the Performing Arts

The Center for Performing Arts suspended performances for a month when Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb first announced COVID-19 guidelines of restricting gatherings to no more than 250 people March 13. When Holcomb amended that to no more than 50 people March 16, the Center extended the suspension of all performances and other events at its venues through May 11.

President Donald Trump announced March 16 a federal guideline that limits gatherings to no more than 10 people.

The affected venues include the Palladium, The Tarkington and the Studio Theater. The cancellations include performances by Actors Theatre of Indiana, Carmel Symphony Orchestra, Central Indiana Dance Ensemble, Civic Theatre, Gregory Hancock Dance Theatre and the Indiana Wind Symphony as well as education events, rental events and Center Presents performances.

That includes Gregory Hancock Dance Theatre’s performance of “Exodus” set for April 3-5 and Carmel Symphony Orchestra’s March 14 and April 18 concerts.

“We regret the circumstances that brought us to this point, but clearly there is no other responsible decision to make for the welfare of our patrons, employees and the community,” stated Jeffrey C. McDermott, president/CEO of the Center for the Performing Arts and the Great American Songbook Foundation.

All ticket holders will be contacted and provided refunds or the option to donate the purchase amount to the presenting organization to help defray costs associated with the cancellations. The Center will work to reschedule the canceled events as feasible, according to the news release.

The Center will continue to follow the guidance of public safety officials and will reassess the suspension as needed.

Offices will remain in operation during standard business hours. The box office and the Great American Songbook Exhibit Gallery at the Palladium will be closed to the public through May 11, but ticket sales for events not affected by the suspension will continue online at thecenterpresents.org or by phone at 317-843-3800.

Beef & Boards Dinner Theatre

Beef & Boards Dinner Theatre officials have announced the remaining performances of “Saturday Night Fever” and the upcoming scheduled production of “An American in Paris” have been canceled.

“Saturday Night Fever” was scheduled to run through March 29 and “An American in Paris” was scheduled to start April 2. Ticket holders for those shows will be contacted by Beef & Boards box office staff with options available to them.

At this time, Beef & Boards plans to reopen with the opening of “The Sound of Music” as scheduled May 14.   

For more, beefandboards.com.

Civic Theatre

Civic Theatre had to postpone “A Few Good Men,” March 13, the day the show was supposed to open at the Studio Theater. The restrictions also forced Civic to shut down “Matilda The Musical,” which was set to open April 24. It is uncertain when or if the shows will be rescheduled.

In the meantime, all ticket holders will be contacted and provided refunds or the option to donate the purchase amount to Civic Theatre to help defray costs associated with the cancellations.

“The magic of live theatre is fundamental to our patrons, volunteers and staff. We are heartbroken at the postponement of ‘A Few Good Men’ and ‘Matilda the Musical,’’ Civic Theatre Executive Artistic Director, Michael Lasley stated.

For more, visit civictheatre.org.

Actors Theatre of Indiana

ATI has postponed “Damn Yankees,” which was scheduled to open April 24, and the May 5 ATI Theatre Lab reading of “Provenance.” ATI co-founder Don Farrell said the plan is to move both into the 2020-2021 season.

“The decision to delay programming places an incredible financial strain on ATI,” Farrell said in a note to supporters. “Please consider making a donation today so that when this crisis ends — and it will — Actors Theatre of Indiana will still be right here waiting for you with open arms, ready to reflect all the best parts of our shared humanity.”

For more, visit atistage.org.

Indiana Repertory Theatre

Indiana Repertory Theatre officials said they have made the tough decision to cancel the rest of the 2019-20 season.

“This is devastating news for our staff and artists, and we do not make this decision lightly. We thank our loyal patrons for your patience as we move forward in these unprecedented times,” Artistic Director Janet Allen and Managing Director Suzanne Sweeney said in a statement. “Our ticket office will be in touch with patrons who purchased ‘Murder on the Orient Express’ tickets to best accommodate the closing of this production as well as the closing of the season. As you can imagine, our customer service staff is experiencing high volumes of requests at this time, and we ask that you await their contact.”

For “Murder on the Orient Express” ticket holders, the IRT, in partnership with WFYI, is offering ticket holders a taped performance of “Murder on the Orient Express.” Details on accessing the show online will be offered soon.

For more, visit irtlive.com/support.

Westfield Playhouse

Main Street Productions has postponed “A Raisin in the Sun,” set to run March 20 to April 5 at the Westfield Playhouse. Director Nancy Lafferty said she hopes the performances will be held later in May or another later date. Meanwhile, Main Street Productions’ staging of “Rumors,” which was supposed to open May 8, has been postponed until the 2022-23 season. For more, visit westfieldplayhouse.org.




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