Reader is concerned about Saroyan Theatre Covid-19 protocols for ‘Waitress’

The Munro Review

Update Tuesday, Jan. 25: I asked Kristy Page, who won tickets from The Munro Review to the national tour of “Waitress,” for her impressions of the Saroyan Theatre Covid-19 protocols for the show. Here’s what she reported back before the performance started: “Checked vax cards with ID. I have seen a few people w\o masks in lobby but most are masked.”

Also, there’s an interesting comment from Martha appended to the story.

To “Waitress” or not to “Waitress”?

For Fresno-area theater fans concerned about Covid-19, that’s an important question. The Broadway in Fresno production of “Waitress” opens tonight (Monday, Jan. 24) for a two-performance run. Reader Wayne Welch writes:

My wife Flora and I are very interested in how the Broadway Series will handle Covid-19 protocols for the second show. I would suspect other readers also would like to know and wondered if you might offer some insight after the show tonight. I realize they require vaccination proof and masks — but will they actually enforce the rules?

Very good question, Wayne.


I’ve decided not to attend the performance of “Waitress” this evening. There are several factors involved in my decision:

1. I already saw “Waitress” on Broadway and in San Francisco. (It’s a very sweet and uplifting show, by the way.) While I’d love to see it again, it’s not a priority.

2. I’m concerned we are at the height of Omicron transmission. I’ve been vaxxed and boosted, of course, but I have three friends (who are also vaxxed and boosted) who tested positive in the last four days. I’ve also looked at the seating chart on Ticketmaster, and it looks like the orchestra section for tonight’s performance is sold out with only a few individual seats remaining. While I trust most people in attendance to do the right thing and wear masks throughout, I wonder how many rule breakers it would take to get the virus circulating.

3. Because of Covid-19 postponements, I’m looking ahead to three local theater productions this coming weekend. In the interest of mitigating my overall risk, dropping the performance that includes 2,000 audience members seems like a good way to go.

I’ll throw Welch’s question out to other readers: Are you worried about “Waitress”?

And for those who are planning to attend on Monday, I’ll ask you to report back on Tuesday morning. Did you feel comfortable with the Covid-19 protocols? Did someone check your vaccination card and confirm it with an I.D.? Did people seem to be keeping their masks on during the performance? If not, did ushers remind them?

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More background: I wrote about my disappointment in the Covid-19 protocols in the first Broadway in Fresno production, of “CATS,” here.

Welch writes that he and his wife did not attend the first show because of Covid and the fact that “CATS” is not high on their list of plays. If the series makes no changes in their effort to protect patrons, it is doubtful they will attend Tuesday, though we are eager to see Waitress.

He adds:

Since Covid, we have only attended Roger Rocka’s and Second Space because of what they are doing to protect everyone. It has been a big change for us — going from 40-plus plays a year to a handful. I did write to the Broadway Series, as well at the Selma Arts Center and CenterStage Clovis Community Theater, expressing concern about Covid protocols and/or enforcement. I did not receive a single reply.


Covering the arts online in the central San Joaquin Valley and beyond. Lover of theater, classical music, visual arts, the literary arts and all creative endeavors. Former Fresno Bee arts critic and columnist. Graduate of Columbia University and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. Excited to be exploring the new world of arts journalism.

Comments (3)

  • Jackie Ryle

    Thank you, Donald. I’m certainly not ready to sit in enclosed area with 100’s of people. While fully vaxed and boostered, I have a very dear friend who is very I’ll and very compromised. I visit her regularly and have serious concerns about transmitting to her. The stakes are just too high. Thank you for your candor.

  • Thank you so much for this, Donald. It seems like now is not the time to take chances, rather, it is a time to mitigate risks. Past reports of numerous non-maskers at past Broadway in Fresno shows (lack of enforcement) gives me a low degree of confidence all will remain masked. This is in contrast to fresno Philharmonic shows, where compliance is near 100% and vaccination cards and identification is closely adhered to. It would be nice if the organizers let people know that rules WOULD be stringently enforced. Lastly, I saw Waitress in 208 on Broadway and frankly was underwhelmed. I will be interested in following this tread. Thank you, Donald!

  • Martha

    One of the staff members in my husband’s office went to a comedian’s show at Saroyan this past Saturday. She reported that they were checking vaccinations at the door, and masks were supposedly required, but that there were several bars inside open selling drinks and popcorn. Plus, they allowed food and drinks to be brought into the theater. So there was no mask enforcement at all and many people were eating and drinking throughout. And the staff member tested positive on Monday, even though she is triple vaxxed and kept her mask on the whole time. So my husband has to stay home until he is certain that he does not have it, he had a negative test today, and will test again tomorrow. Conclusion : no enforcement of mask protocols at Saroyan. I don’t know if the Bway theater people could follow stricter protocols if they wished.


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