Unless you have been living in a remote village at the end of the earth, you know by now that the COVID-19 virus has caused just about anything and everything to be closed or rearranged until further notice.
That ruling includes professional theater, about which I wrote in my last article, and it also includes community theaters, including Bucks and Montgomery counties and Mercer and Hunterdon counties in New Jersey.
Not only have the closures put a whammy on the income of these groups, most of whom begin operating each spring, but it has put the theater boards and members into a tailspin trying to guess when they can begin again, how to modify their seasons, and how to pay the bills.
And, while producing theater and attending the plays offered is not a matter of life or death to the general public, seeing and participating in theater is a huge part of many people’s lives, so it is very important to them, just as playing golf or tennis or going fishing is to others.
These are their stories…
Town & Country Players President Matthew Schultheis, in consultation with the board of directors of York Road, Buckingham, announced a new ambitious schedule which they hope will begin in June: “It’s Only A Play,” June 12 - 27; Matilda, July 17 - Aug. 1; “November” Aug. 21 - Sept. 5; “Steel Magnolias,” Sept. 18 - Oct. 3; “Young Frankenstein,” Oct. 23 - Nov. 7; “The Nutcracker,” Nov. 20 - 29; and the Holiday Show, Dec. 4 - 6. Visit http://townandcountryplayers.org/index.html
. The 16-member board of Newtown Arts Company, by the time you read this article, will have teleconferenced to decide how to move forward. They lease space from the Newtown Movie Theatre on State Street, so theater availability must be considered.
NAC was heavily into rehearsal for “The Wedding Singer” when COVID-19 hit, therefore, according to board president, Lisa Reiser, the group is hoping to present that show when life returns to normal. Only time and wellness will determine everything, so check newtownartscompany.com
Langhorne Players, Newtown, a group which performs in the Spring Mill building on Route 332 in Newtown, has canceled its opening show, but, providing restrictions are lifted, is planning to proceed with “Other Desert Cities,” May 29 - June 13; “A Kid Like Jake,” Aug. 14 - 29; “Third,” July 10 - 25; and “Dead Man’s Cell Phone,” Oct. 2 - 17. Visit langhorneplayers.org
ActorsNet in Morrisville, has suspended all shows at least through June, including its Summer Stars Program. Until the pandemic circumstances change, founders Joe and Cheryl Doyle and the board, find it too difficult to plan. Visit actorsnetbucks.org
Playmasters, Neshaminy State Park, Bensalem, performs mainly in the fall, winter and spring. In keeping with the declaration of a national emergency, Playmasters has decided to postpone its March-April production of “Drinking Habits” until June and move “Jack of Diamonds,” scheduled for June, to next season. Visit playmasters.org
Neshaminy Valley Music Theatre has postponed “Annie,” its one show this year, to have been presented at Neshaminy High School at the end of March. The group is working with the school district to establish revised show dates. Visit nvmt.org
Across the Delaware River in Lambertville, N.J. is Music Mountain Theatre. This group has closed the theater, intending to reopen just as soon as possible with an adjusted schedule. Ginny Brennan said they are doing their best to be as optimistic about the future as possible. They continue to offer virtual classes and post on Facebook. Visit musicmountaintheatre.org
Ashley Lora-Lee, president of Hatboro Village Players, said its board of directors had to vote several times to come to a difficult agreement on what to do for the season before calling all season ticket holders to tell them of changes. Currently scheduled shows are canceled, and Hatboro said they might be canceled through mid-May, with possible cancellation of the June show, depending what happens with the pandemic. Visit thevillageplayers.com
Dutch Country Players is another nearby community theater where Bucks County actors often perform. Located at 795 Ridge Road, Telford, Montgomery County, DCP Theatre has decided to postpone its opening production, originally scheduled to begin April 3, until its 2021 season. It also has moved the remaining four shows into a modified schedule hoping to begin performances in July. Check their website for dates and times at dcptheatre.com
A bit farther away, but where Bucks County actors often appear, is Playcrafters in Skippack.
Its opening show, “Enchanted April,” has been moved to December. In the meantime, Playcrafters is scrambling to rearrange its season, and they, as are all theaters, are crossing their fingers and toes that they will be able to perform once COVID-19 is under control. Visit playcrafters.org
Finally, the Kelsey Theatre on the campus of Mercer County Community College, West Windsor, N.J., has closed until further notice. Visit kelseytheatre.org
I am crying for each of these groups that would like nothing more than to be entertaining audiences with comedy and tragedy and musicals. Please keep all of them in mind if you are able to contribute to them. All will need money to continue. And, be sure to see good theater as soon as you are able. Stay safe!