In response to the guidelines issued by the California Department of Public Health and Governor Newsom’s shelter-in-place-order to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), Sierra Rep must, unfortunately, cancel summer productions of Disney’s The Little Mermaid, Little Shop of Horrors, Stage Kiss, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, and Cabaret productions of 70’s Sirens and A Tribute to Roy Orbison. Prior to this announcement and per the aforementioned guidelines, SRT also had to cancel their run of Camelot, and the subsequent productions of The Church Basement Ladies in The Last (Potluck) Supper and Snow in Midsummer.
“This has been a year like none other,” says Scott Viets, Producing Artistic Director of SRT. “In 2011 the theatre faced hard times in the wake of the last economic recession but we were able to continue production and welcome audiences into our theaters. Now, not only are we waiting for California to enter into Phase 4 of Governor Newsom’s structured re-opening, we are also in the dark about travel restrictions for audiences and our guest artists, social distancing measures that will undoubtedly come into play when we are able to re-open, and post-COVID-19 workplace protocols for staff and artists. It’s a lot to take in and I feel for every business that is struggling through our current situation. But we are resolved to remain optimistic. Our culture is resilient, strong and we love the arts. I have no doubt that we will welcome very happy audiences in the future.
“We are encouraged that Tuolumne County is beginning to open and are now laser focused on Friday, September 11th - the date we hope and plan to re-open with exciting back to back shows for the remainder of the year. In planning for the remainder of the year, our first decision is to replace Stage Kiss (previously scheduled for September) with a rollicking TBA musical. Some may be confused at the prospect of replacing a title mid-season. Plainly, the cost of producing Stage Kiss at this time (implementing social distancing practices that reduces the number of available seats) does not make budgetary sense. We take great pride in our work and we want to make sure that this title is celebrated appropriately in a future season. Our TBA Musical will be a smaller production but will have all the vim and vigor of our regular mainstage programming. When we do reopen, our adjusted schedule will include: TBA Musical (replacing Stage Kiss; September 11 – October 11, Fallon House), Elf The Musical (November 6 – December 20, Fallon House), and Meet Me in St. Louis: A Live Radio Play (November 20 – December 20, East Sonora Theatre).
“As we share the excitement for the remainder of the season, we are conscious of the continuing challenge of paying bills when there are no shows on stage to generate funds. Even with the theatre dark, we are faced with costs that include utilities, rent, salaries for core staff, and ultimately the cost of bringing staff back when production commences. If you have tickets to any of these productions, we ask that you donate the value back to Sierra Rep as a tax-deductible donation. Beyond donating your tickets back, if you would like to make a contribution to help us through this period, please consider donating to our Annual Fund.”
For questions about Ticket Services for these cancelled productions, please visit SierraRep.org.
Along with the mainstage productions that have been cancelled, the theatre’s educational program, SRT Jr., has been dealt a major blow. All educational workshops have been cancelled or postponed until the 2021 Season. Outlying county travel restrictions and unclear safety protocols have given SRT directors pause in scheduling students to reconvene this year. SRT remains hopeful that SRT in Schools will be operational after local schools re-open. SRT in Schools is a new program designed to bring professional touring theatre productions to the area’s schools absolutely free of charge.
Earlier this year, the SRT in Schools production of Peter Rabbit was cancelled after playing only one performance at a local elementary school before California educational facilities started shutting down. SRT plans to continue offering Peter Rabbit as part of their SRT in Schools program once it becomes safe for schools to allow assemblies. For more information about SRT in Schools, visit the Education page at SierraRep.org.