ATI seeks alternative ways to entertain audiences


Actors Theatre of Indiana co-founder Don Farrell’s creative juices are flowing.

Farrell and co-founders Judy Fitzgerald and Cynthia Collins are working on ways to reimagine the 2020-21 season amid the coronavirus pandemic.

ATI announced July 28 it was canceling its four productions planned for the Studio Theater in the Center for the Performing Arts in Carmel. ATI was set to open Sept. 4 with “Always …Patsy Cline,” which featured a two-person cast of Fitzgerald and Collins. The other shows canceled were “Lombardi” in 2020 and “The Big Bang: The Musical” and “Damn Yankees” in 2021.

Farrell said it would be putting the organization at financial risk if it attempted to move forward only having to later postpone or cancel productions. Originally, he said they believed ATI could put on the two-person “Patsy Cline” show because it is a two-person cast. But the production costs were higher with COVID-19 testing and other factors.

“Plus, our (COVID-19 case) numbers were a lot better then,” he said. “It’s a trying time for everyone, and the entertainment industry has been hit so hard.”

Farrell said the safety of ATI performers and patrons is at the forefront of any decision.

“The good news is this. While we are taking a pause from presenting full-scale productions, we are all thinking outside the box to stay relevant and publicly connected during these difficult times for all arts organizations,” said Farrell, whose company uses Actors’ Equity Association performers.

Farrell said several options are being explored which he hopes to announce soon.

“I’m waiting on an approval for the board for one project,” Farrell said. “It will be a little different, but we’re excited to be able to offer it.”

Farrell said if circumstances allow, ATI can add more traditional programming back into the schedule.

Civic Theatre shows on for now

Civic Theatre’s first show, “Matilda The Musical,” is scheduled for Oct. 2-17 at The Tarkington at the Center for the Performing Arts.

“We can’t know at this point exactly what our future will be like for live experiences, but we are committed to finding the best path forward while ensuring the safety of our patrons, staff and volunteers,” said Melissa Hook, Civic marketing and events manager. “Following social distancing guidelines at this time, available seating in the venues at the Center for the Performing Arts have been significantly reduced to ensure patrons and their families are at least 6 feet apart while enjoying a performance.”

CCP cancels 2020 shows

Carmel Community Players closed its final three performances of “The Last Five Years,” July 31, Aug, 1-2 after learning one of the show’s staff tested positive for COVID-19. The individual did not have direct contact with audience members but did have contact with the cast.

The occurrence helped convince CCP to cancel the final two shows of 2020. CCP Board President Lori Raffel said when the decision was made to resume the season, CCP believed it could do it safely.

“We now feel strongly that in the best interest of our patrons and volunteers, we must cancel all in-person activities for the remainder of the year, which means that ‘Shipwrecked! An Entertainment’ and our holiday show will not be happening as planned,” Raffel stated. “Season ticket holders will be given the choice to either receive a refund for the last show of the (2020-21) season or donate that amount to CCP for use in finding a new home and future show expenses.”

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