Against omicron, the residents of Bikini Bottom couldn’t come out on top.
Selma Arts Center on Wednesday was forced to scrap the January opening of “The SpongeBob Musical” completely after too many cast members tested positive for COVID-19. The show has been postponed to the summer season.
“It was a tough decision but ultimately a necessary one,” says Miguel Gastelum, co-director of the show.
“SpongeBob” had originally been scheduled to open Jan. 21, kicking off a three-weekend run that would have gone through Feb. 5. A few days before the original opening, Selma Arts Center moved the opening to Thursday, Jan. 27. Here’s the SAC Facebook announcement:
Despite our concentrated efforts, we feel we are unable to secure an environment that is safe enough for our cast, crew, and audience members due to the rising number of COVID-19 cases in our community and within the company. As such, we have made the incredibly difficult decision to postpone our run of The SpongeBob Musical. We are devastated to share this news and apologize for the cancelation of your tickets, but we are hopeful that this delay will ensure a safe and enjoyable visit to Bikini Bottom. “The SpongeBob Musical” will now play this summer at the Selma Arts Center. Our previously announced production of “HAIR” will be produced at a later date, to be announced. Our production of “Little Shop Of Horrors” is still scheduled to play its previously announced run.
Selma Arts Center, Good Company Players and the Fresno Philharmonic are among the local cultural institutions grappling with the omicron variant. All have had to postpone or cancel performances in January.
For the theater companies, the biggest problem has been performers having to call out sick because of positive Covid-19 tests. A positive result sets a countdown clock for when that performer can return. Good Company Players has been able to keep some shows running using understudies, but there are a limited number of substitutes who can step in for certain roles.
Selma Arts Center didn’t have understudies for “SpongeBob,” which is common for local shows with shorter runs. At one point last weekend, a crew member was prepared to step in to cover a role, but that left the company with no coverage at all beyond that. Additional COVID-19 positive results among the cast this week left no choice but to shutter the show.
SAC adds: “A refund for your SpongeBob tickets can be processed automatically, or you can donate your ticket to the Selma Arts Center. Please email NicoletteA@cityofselma.com or call 559-891-2238 and leave a message with your name and preference and we will handle it directly.”
My thoughts: This is a blow. I know how hard the cast, crew and creative team for “SpongeBob” worked to make this production happen, and I really feel for them. I’m especially thinking of Jonathan Padilla, who plays the title character. This would have been a major breakout role for the young actor, who has been such an enthusiastic ensemble member in many Good Company Players productions. He makes a great SpongeBob in the poster!