To be or not to do shows amid the COVID-19 outbreak


January is said to be a big month for the performing arts in North Texas with nearly a dozen theater and dance productions planned. But with the rapid spread of the omicron variant wreaking havoc on our ability to pull together, two shows have already been postponed. Other groups say that while they plan to continue for the time being, they are closely monitoring the development of coronaviruses.

Meanwhile, performances of the Broadway touring production of Jersey Boys, which began on Tuesday, continues at Music Hall in Fair Park through Jan. 9, according to Dallas Summer Musicals spokesperson Mike Richman, albeit with an audience below capacity.

DSM expects to sell about two-thirds of the 3,400 tickets available for Jersey Boys every night meeting screenings as this is the show’s fifth tour of Dallas, Richman said. During the first two nights, 15 percent of the expected audience did not attend, higher than the typical no-show level of around 10 percent. Shortly before the show opened on Tuesday, three sick cast members had to be replaced, he said.

” Except [further] epidemics within the tour company, we expect to have all 16 performances of Jersey Boysincluding New Years Eve and New Years Day, ”said Richman.

(left to right) Eric Chambliss, Jon Hacker, Corey Greenan, Michael Milton and the “Jersey Boys” company performed in December 2021 at Fair Park by Dallas Summer Musicals.
(Jean Marcus)

Postponed productions include Shakespeare’s annual winter series Dallas Twelfth Night, scheduled for January 14-23 at Moody Performance Hall, and Junior Players’ Be cooler, which had been set for January 6-9 at the same location.

The postponements reflect what is happening on Broadway, where several shows have closed until the start of the new year. At least four have announced their final closure. Hugh Jackman, who stars in a revival of The man of music, is the latest star to contract COVID-19.

“After a public meeting with the production company to consider what we need to do to protect their health and safety in the future, we believe that we cannot ensure the health of the company and our audience with the surge in COVID as we know it, ”Shakespeare Dallas executive director Raphael Parry said on the troupe’s website. “After the holidays, we will look at possible ways to relaunch this production. We cannot guarantee postponed production and new dates, but we will do our best. “

Junior players echoed Parry’s comments, saying the decision was not made lightly.

“As a non-profit organization that exists to give children and teens in our community the opportunity to produce art, the last thing we want to do is cancel a production,” the company wrote. in a press release. “However, we also have a responsibility to all of our amazing actors, production team, staff and customers to provide a safe environment. After much discussion internally, with other theater companies, our junior player board and public health professionals, we made the incredibly difficult decision to postpone Be cooler. “

Dallas Summer Musicals had to cancel a performance of Hamilton in November when one or more members of the cast or team contracted COVID-19. The Next Step For Touring Broadway Presenters Is Success Hadestown, which is due to open at the AT&T Performing Arts Center’s Winspear Opera House on January 18. Richman said 90 percent of the seats for the race have been sold and he is expected to sell.

Before even that, ATTPAC is about to present a short series of What the Constitution means to me as part of his Broadway touring series starting Tuesday.

Heidi Schreck, author and former star of the play "What the Constitution means to me," and new frontman Cassie Beck, who stars in the North American touring production in Dallas in January 2022. Photo courtesy via AT&T Performing Arts Center.

“I think it’s fair to say that sales have slowed down, but even during tonight’s show [Mannheim Steamroller], we had strong attendance and sales on our December shows, ”said ATTPAC spokesperson Caroline Crocker on Thursday. “And really all of these shows had strong last minute sales. So I think people are still anxious to go out but take a wait and see approach. “

The center is also hosting a performance by New York dance group Ballet Hispánico, presented by TITAS / Dance Unbound and scheduled for January 14 at Winspear.

“They bought their plane tickets. The plan is to move forward. We have a very full room, ”said TITAS director Charles Santos. “The possibility of cancellation is always present during this period. For the moment, things are progressing and we are ready to go. “

TITAS / Dance Unbound Executive Director Charles Santos sits in a theater in Dallas.
TITAS / Dance Unbound Executive Director Charles Santos sits in a theater in Dallas.

The Dallas Theater Center also plans to move forward with its next production of the Thornton Wilder classic. Our city, which will run from January 27 to February. 20 at the Kalita Humphreys Theater.

Rehearsals are expected to resume on Tuesday, spokesperson Paula Paggi said. “We have no plans to cancel or postpone anything at this time, but I can tell you that we will be creating a digital version of Our city available.”

As might be expected, Southern Methodist University’s SMU DataArts, a data collection and research center that studies the financial and operational health of arts and cultural institutions nationwide, reported that rates d COVID infection is the main, if not the only, factor depressing ticket sales and attendance.

“Arts and culture are back in Dallas! Screams the first sentence of a November announcement by the Dallas Arts District of a collaboration between 29 local arts organizations encouraging audiences to return to in-person performances. Three video spots were created for social media and broadcast media.

The January theater program in North Texas also includes productions planned by the Cry Havoc Theater Company at South Dallas Cultural Center, Stage West and Circle Theater in Fort Worth, Theater Three at Bryant Hall, and Cara Mia Theater at Latino Cultural Center.

Theater Three begins rehearsals for Maytag virgin next week, according to art director Jeffrey Schmidt. He said there are some advantages to the production, such as a cast size of two. The number of people in the rehearsal room will be reduced to the strict minimum; the tests will take place three times a week; and there will be no contact with the public, who will have to wear masks and be vaccinated or have a negative COVID-19 test.

“I’m not going to guess our chances. We do the show until we don’t,” Schmidt said. “That doesn’t mean we don’t model different storylines to make sure the show plays out. regardless of what COVID throws at us. I think it’s just healthier to look at it that way, instead of worrying about canceling. “

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