Community theaters face an uncertain future

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Community theaters face an uncertain future

Community theaters face an uncertain future
Michael Woody
Monday, April 27, 2020

As Ohio contemplates lifting restrictions due to Covid-19, community theaters all over the Dayton area are facing an uncertain future.

Community theaters face an uncertain future

Community theaters face an uncertain future

Due to the state’s lockdown over Covid-19, community theaters all over the Dayton area have been on an extended intermission.

Dayton Playhouse cancelled a total of 12 performances including the final weekend of their spring play, 'The Man Who Came to Dinner', their spring musical, 'Jekyll & Hyde' and their fundraiser MIScast Cabaret was also cancelled. 

Matthew Lindsay, Board Chairman of the Dayton Playhouse said the past few weeks have been emotionally draining.

"It’s all you can do to keep it together while breaking the worst possible news to a cast," Lindsay said. "People who have put their hearts and time and energy and love into a production, only to have it disappear before it goes under the lights, before an audience." 

"We're community theatre, we don’t pay our artists. In a way the payoff is the audiences reaction - the gasps, the laughs, the tears, and the applause," Lindsay said. 

Financially the Dayton Playhouse has lost in excess of $10,000 in refunds,  plus ticket sales that were never made. They also lost expected revenue from the MIScast Cabaret fundraiser and opportunities to promote their season. 

Dare 2 Defy Productions were two days from tech week when everything came to a halt for their production of 'Jekyll & Hyde.' 

"So many people put countless hours and effort into the show so you feel very unfulfilled to not be able to perform it," said Mackensie King, Co-Artistic Director.

The lack of any cash flow makes it difficult for Dare 2 Defy Productions to cover the basic necessities, such as rent. King is making plans to implement safety precautions once the lockdown is lifted.

"When it is safe to be back together, we plan to go full force, bringing edgy theatre back to the Dayton area," King said. "Dayton has been through so many things and we will come back stronger."

Troy Community Theatre (TCT) has been fortunate in that they have not yet had to cancel a show. The initial recommendation to keep crowds under 100 people was during the final weekend of their production of ‘Proof’ and the audience was under the guidelines. Their May show, 'The Hallelujah Girls' has been rescheduled for August. 

The board of the TCT is currently discussing ways to protect everyone when ready to reopen. "We expect to have masks available for box office staff, ushers, etc. when we do have a show again," said Nicole Amersdorfer, President of the TCT.

Beavercreek Community Theatre (BCT) had to cancel 'If/Then,' which was the final show of their 2019-20 season. 

"Everyone involved is of course heartbroken to have to cancel but understand we are in unprecedented times," said Doug Lloyd, President of the BCT.  "All future decisions will be made keeping the health and safety of casts, crews and patrons at the utmost importance."

The BCT is hopeful to be able to open their 2020-21 season in August, which will be their 25th year. 

The Dayton Playhouse believes it’s important to wait and see how the public wants to respond. 

"I think we’ll need to find out from our patrons when they are ready to come back and sit in a theater with other people. There’s no telling when the public’s comfort level will be at that level," said Lindsay. 

Though there are still plenty of questions about when shows can return, King is certain that Dare 2 Defy Productions will be back with a desire to entertain that’s bigger than before. 

These community theatres, like many others throughout the Miami Valley, anxiously await for the curtain to rise and open up their stage for many upcoming productions. 

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About Michael Woody

Michael Woody
Mike Woody is a life long resident of Dayton, and has a passion for writing, which is good because he doesn't excel at much of anything else, except eating.