Positive Covid-19 tests shut down Good Company’s ‘Music Man’ for two performances

Good Company Players

Terry Lewis, left, and Shawn Williams in ‘The Music Man.’

Multiple positive Covid-19 tests at Roger Rocka’s Dinner Theater have shut down two performances opening-weekend performances of the Good Company Players production of “The Music Man.” The Saturday evening performance and Sunday matinee were canceled.

The first positive test results in the cast began midweek, while the production was in its arduous “tech week” schedule preparing for opening night on Thursday, May 19. The numbers swelled over the next few days. Dan Pessano, artistic director of Good Company, says eight or nine cast members have tested positive as of Sunday.

GCP’s “I Remember Mama,” currently playing at the 2nd Space Theatre, played as schedule on Saturday night, but the Sunday matinee was canceled. While there were no positive test results at Sunday’s call, Pessano says the cancellation was made out of an abundance of caution, particularly because of the older demographic of matinee audiences.

For “Music Man,” GCP posted the news Saturday afternoon on Twitter:


On top of the havoc caused by the pandemic during the past two years, this latest cancellation is another financial and artistic blow to the stalwart theater company and iconic dinner theater, which work in tandem to produce mainstage shows.

GCP and Roger Rocka’s have been serious about Covid safety since the pandemic began. Up until the opening of “Music Man,” patrons were required to show proof of vaccination or a negative test result. In recent months, audience members were not required (but encouraged) to wear masks. Dining staff and cast members (when not on stage) continue to wear masks.

KMPH reports that with the opening of “Music Man” on Thursday, the requirement to show proof of vaccination status was dropped. That change in policy will now be revisited.

Tech week at Good Company is long, grueling and includes lots of face-to-face contact between cast members for days on end. “This is like a perfect storm when the cast comes together for a lengthier time,” Pessano says.

The company has tried to prepare diligently for Covid emergencies, to the extent of double-casting the recent production of “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee,” which closed just a week ago, on May 15. However, a show the size of “Music Man,” with its cast ranging in age from 7 to 80, would be difficult for a company to cover all the roles with understudies.

Pessano notes that there can be a false sense of security about Covid-19 and that it’s important to remain vigilant.

“You feel like the clock has ticked that you’ve done your two-years time,” he says, referring to the company limping through the pandemic.

The goal is for “Music Man” to return on Thursday, May 26, although that’s still tentative. It depends on whether the “wave” has already crashed and subsided.

“We really hope to be back,” Pessano says, “as soon as possible.”

This post was updated at noon and 2 p.m. Sunday, May 22.

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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 (1)

  • Janet Baker

    I have felt more security in attending these great shows knowing that everyone in the audience was vaccinated. I would prefer the protocol remain in place for the safety of the actors, staff and audience.


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