Barrington Stage Company in Pittsfield announced yesterday that it will postpone its planned summer season to summer of 2021 due to coronavirus concerns, but beginning in August will present a revised schedule of theater with “Socially Distanced Seating.” The move makes the Berkshires-based theater company among the first cultural presenters in the region to announce it is going forward with live performances in 2020.
“We think there is a strong need to do an alternate season that honors live theatre, that allows us to assemble safely and reminds us we are not alone in this self-isolated world we find ourselves in,” Artistic Director Julianne Boyd said in a statement on the theater’s website. “We want to give you a safe place where you can experience wonderful stories and music and for a few short hours transport you to a different world. …. Given the extensive precautions and preventive measures we are taking, we look forward to being able to support the artists, the staff and the Pittsfield community through what we do best — live theatre.”
The theater said on its website and YouTube that precautions will include:
• The theater’s mainstage will be reduced from 520 seats to 163, Boyd said in a video posted to Youtube. “We will be removing every other row of seats with 2 vacant seats between each party,” the theater’s website said, “so getting to your seats doesn’t involve close contact with other patrons in your row.”
• “We’ve decided to close Mr. Finn’s Cabaret, close the St. Germain Stage. They’re too small. We can’t have social distancing there,” Boyd said in the Youtube video.
• All patrons will be required to wear masks.
• The theater says it is creating multiple entrances “to give everyone additional space while entering and exiting the theatre.”
• A number of shows “will be performed without intermissions to minimize lines to bathrooms.”
• “Ample hand sanitizer” will be available.
• “Seats, armrests, countertops and other high-touch surfaces will be treated with disinfectant after each performance,” the theater said.
• Ticket sales will only be by phone or email as “the box office will remain closed for in-person transactions until further notice.” Also, “We strongly encourage patrons to print their tickets at home or select an e-ticket to be scanned from their phone upon arrival. There will be a tent set up near the east entrance for will call.”
On March 17, Barrington Stage Company had announced: “We wish we could continue with our season uninterrupted; however, we have made the difficult decision to cancel the first production of our season, ‘The Great Leap.’ [scheduled to begin previews May 27] We will now begin the season on June 18 with the Pulitzer Prize-winning ‘Anna in the Tropics.’”
Yesterday’s announcement supersedes that plan. “Barrington Stage is postponing our previously announced 2020 season until the summer of 2021,”the theater explained on its website yesterday. “We want to present these plays and musicals to you, as intended, in glorious full productions, and that is just not possible this year.”
The revised season announced yesterday begins Aug. 5 with Mark H. Dold starring in David Cale’s one-man show, “Harry Clarke.” The theater’s Monday Night Concert Series will present jazz and cabaret singer Marilyn Maye on Aug. 24 and singer/songwriter Ann Hampton Callaway performing “The Linda Ronstadt Songbook” with Billy Stritch at the piano on Aug. 31. These shows “will be performed without intermissions to minimize lines to bathrooms.”
The theater plans to present “South Pacific: In Concert” from Aug. 21–23 “at an outdoor venue in Pittsfield.” On Sept. 5, they plan to host a reading of “Eleanor,” a new one-woman play about the life of Eleanor Roosevelt by Barrington Stage associate artist Mark St. Germain and starring Tony Award-winner Harriet Harris. Then the “10×10 New Play Festival” will run from Sept. 9 to 20” and “The Price” by Arthur Miller “will play as originally scheduled from Oct. 1¬to 18.”
“We don’t know how long this pandemic will last or when we can all get truly together,” Boyd said in the Youtube video. “But it’s important that we tell the stories we want to tell on the stage, that people listen, and that they leave the theater with not only with a sense of community, but a sense of shared humanity.”
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