Performing arts venues in Meriden, Wallingford respond to Phase 3 reopening

Performing arts venues in Meriden, Wallingford respond to Phase 3 reopening



Restrictions in response to the ongoing pandemic has darkened stages across the state, shuttering theaters and other performing arts venues.

Indoor events resumed July 20, but with restrictions including capacity limits of 25 people including staff. Musical vocalists are not allowed to perform indoors.

Theaters are slated to get a reprieve next month, as Phase 3 of the state’s reopening is slated to take effect Oct. 8.

Gov. Ned Lamont announced last week that indoor performance venues will be able to open at 50 percent capacity, with face masks and social distancing required.

Local community theaters have found ways to stay active, from performing adapted radio plays to holding outdoor concerts.

Castle Craig Players in Meriden shut down in March, cutting short a performance of the musical “Next to Normal” and postponing the rest of the season.

Ian Galligan, theater director and board vice president, said Monday the board plans to re-evaluate whether to resume live performances after the new year.

“Social distancing would be hard, not only for the audience, but for the actors as well,” Galligan said.

The audience capacity at the Almira F. Stephan Memorial Playhouse, 50 W. Main St., is 60 people. The house, where the audience sits, is 930 square feet and the stage is 420 square feet, for a total of 1,350 square feet. This does not include the backstage area behind the stage or basement.

Galligan said most theaters, especially small ones like the Castle Craig Players’ space, can’t afford to operate at 50 percent since their income relies on ticket sales.

Lawsuit

In fact, Castle Craig Players are still waiting on a nearly $10,000 payment of proceeds from ticket sales for “Next to Normal” from Brown Paper Tickets, a Seattle-based company that had handled its online ticket sales since 2013.

Legal action against Brown Paper Tickets began earlier this month in Washington state. Ticket buyers, in a class action lawsuit, seek ticket refunds for canceled events and event producers seek financial restitution for unpaid ticket proceeds.

Melanie Del Sole, Castle Craig Players board president, said in a statement to patrons in August that the theater, “along with thousands of other nonprofit organizations across the country, have suffered major financial loss due to BPT’s mishandling of monies that rightfully belong to theatre groups large and small.

“This, along with having to close our doors due to the pandemic, has left us with financial challenges which we have never faced in our 28-year history,” Del Sole said. “We deeply regret this situation and want to assure you that we have found another ticketing agency for future productions.”

Despite its financial woes and being dark for six months, Castle Craig Players have kept going with virtual events, including a concert performed by theater alumni last month called “A Light in the Dark,” which is available online.

On Oct. 24, the theater is planning a virtual interactive murder mystery, in which audience members are the participants, as a one-night-only fundraiser.

“Bullets on Broadway” audience members are assigned a role and receive a packet with a character back story, clues and evidence, as well as a costume suggestion sheet.

Tickets are available online at www.castlecraig.org.

Square Foot Theatre

In Wallingford, the Square Foot Theatre also postponed the rest of its season, leaving up the set of “Pippin,” which ran in February, and getting in only one rehearsal of the next scheduled show, Green Day’s “American Idiot.”

“We look forward to reaching out to the community of Wallingford for their support in ensuring that we open in the safest way possible,” Patrick Laffin, the theater’s creative director, said via email Monday, “keeping our actors’ and patrons’ well-being is our first priority.”

The theater, 900 Yale Ave., started an outdoor concert series in July called “Under the Stars,” hosting musicians and performers near its tidied-up rear loading area.

Staff put down gravel, fencing and enough tables and seating for around 40 guests.

Jared Andrew Brown, Square Foot Theatre executive director, said that “Under the Stars” will continue through the fall as weather permits.

“Our new outdoor space gives us back that much-needed connection that we were all craving these past few months,” he said.

More information can be found at www.squarefoottheatre.com/underthestars.

“The board of directors cannot wait until our space is full of the enthusiastic energy that brings our immersive experience to life,” he said.

LTakores@record-journal.com203-317-2212Twitter: @LCTakores


Katie Kirtland and Stephen Koehler perform during "A Light in the Dark."
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