Update: As COVID-19 restrictions are dropped, 2 theater companies shift their safety protocols
With new guidance from the state, COVID-19 restrictions are vastly different than just a week ago. Let’s take a look at how two local theater companies in the middle of productions are responding: Children’s Musical Theaterworks and Good Company Players.
A great illustration of the change from one week to the next is the CMT production of “Matilda the Musical.” It opened on June 11, when capacity limits and the color-coded tier system were still in effect. CMT was only able to sell about 30% of its seats out of a 520-seat capacity, leading to four “sold-out performances” and people being turned away. When the second and final weekend begins on June 18, the theater can be filled to 100% occupancy.
However — and this is a big however — that doesn’t mean everything is back to “normal.” Individual businesses (and theater companies) can still mandate safety protocols. In the case of CMT, audience members are required to wear masks during the second weekend of the show even as they are seated closer together.
“Our management team has made that decision,” board president K.C. Rutiaga says. “We are going to require masks for the audience since we are a venue primarily for children.”
Also of note: The CMT cast will continue to use clear plastic face shields while performing.
At Good Company Players, managing director Dan Pessano also says that a stricter protocol than the state’s regulations will be in effect.
Patrons at both Roger Rocka’s Dinner Theater and the 2nd Space Theatre will continue to be required to show proof of a completed round of vaccinations — or a recent negative COVID-19 test. This protocol will be in effect through the entire runs of “Nunsense” at Roger Rocka’s (which runs through July 11) and “This Random World” at the 2nd Space Theatre (which runs through Aug. 8).
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The biggest changes because of changed COVID-19 restrictions: Both theaters will be able to sell up to 100% of capacity. If patrons don’t feel comfortable sitting directly next to someone they don’t know — and the show isn’t sold out — an effort will be made to make social distancing work.
Announcements will be made before each show asking people to wear masks, but given the already established vaccination requirements, that request likely will become more of an option for individuals. (No one is going to be checking in the dark.)
Pessano makes clear that vaccinations were the game-changer. There has been almost no pushback from GCP patrons regarding the requirements, he says, although there are a few people who have told him they would not be attending as long as a vaccine is required.
On a lighter note, here’s a look at backstage during “Matilda the Musical” on opening weekend:
You can read my thoughts about the production here.