new jersey theatre reopening
General Theatre

Indoor Theatre Can Now Return to New Jersey

Gov. Phil Murphy announced on Monday that New Jersey’s indoor performance venues, including music clubs and theatres, can reopen at reduced capacity starting Friday, Sept. 4. This executive order also includes movie theaters.

Venues are allowed to open at a capacity of either 25 percent or 150, whichever is less. Everyone, staff and guests, must wear masks and comply with social distancing. Food and drink can be served. However, this is only for ticketed performances – no standing room or general admission shows allowed.

While this is good news for smaller music venues and clubs, it will be more difficult for larger venues. Even more concerning is what it means for New Jersey’s large theatres – like State Theatre New Jersey, Paper Mill Playhouse and Mayo Performing Arts Center. Some of these institutions have lost millions in the past six months. Now, they are allowed to open at a fraction of their capacity, with (likely) no live shows lined up anyway.

And it may not even be financially realistic for them to open at such a reduced capacity. For a theatre like State Theatre that can sit 1850 people, operating at such a small number is likely impossible. If the capacity number includes employees and audience members, then the amount of tickets they could sell would be next to nothing, not to mention the profit would be essentially nonexistent.

While we likely will not see any big theatres here in New Jersey opening up at these limits, it still gives me hope for the future that live theatre will be able to make its safe return eventually. These theatres have done so much since March to try to stay afloat, canceling and rescheduling shows and shifting to digital programming.

Although theatres legally can reopen now, they probably will not for financial reasons. However, I may be surprised. Perhaps some of these venues have a smaller theatre or a black box theatre where they can put on more intimate shows and be able to function. Or maybe they will continue with the digital programming and wait until they can reopen in full, or at least with a larger capacity. Whatever happens, I am eager for theatre to return.

In the meantime, please contact your representatives and urge them to help the live events industry. The link I have attached allows you to easily fill out a form to send a letter. If you are financially able to, please consider making a donation to the NJ Arts and Culture Recovery Fund. It is the least we can do to help our beloved industry survive.

If you liked this post, check out:

What Will Broadway Look Like When it Returns?

Indoor Theatre Returns: Equity Approves Productions at Three Theatres

And make sure to Follow Us on Twitter!

indoor theatre returns
theatre trivia
General Theatre, Theatre Adjacent, Theatre Online

Earn Rewards While Answering Theatre Trivia

Last night, I got an email from Audience Rewards about earning and redeeming points while Broadway is still shut down. If you’re not familiar with Audience Rewards, by the way, it’s a great service where you can earn points by purchasing tickets to shows that you can redeem for merchandise or experiences. I highly recommend it. Anyway, this email said I could answer theatre trivia and earn ShowPoints. I love trivia and my brain for whatever reason contains a lot of useless knowledge, so obviously I was interested.

I checked it out and quickly became obsessed. If you love trivia, this will be so much fun for you. Some of the questions were super easy, but there were a few challenging ones too. Plus, there are 12 categories and nearly 60 pages of questions, so there’s tons of variety if you need more.

Now, don’t expect to earn thousands of points doing this. The questions generally range between two and four points for a correct answer. This is not much considering when you buy a ticket, one dollar equals two points. I earned about 50 points just doing this last night. But it’s still a fun way to earn some extra ShowPoints while actually buying tickets is out of the question.

If you like theatre trivia, you should definitely check out Audience Rewards – especially if you don’t have an existing account. Usually, you can redeem your points for merchandise or cool theatre experiences, but while Broadway is closed, you can still redeem points for interesting things. There’s always shirts and cast albums you can get, and they are even doing a virtual wine tasting experience with Mean Girls star Kate Rockwell. Or, save up your points to redeem them for something really cool when Broadway returns. If you know the name of the main flying monkey in Wicked or if you know what state Lynn Nottage’s Sweat takes place in, you’ll have a great time.

If you liked this post, check out:

The Tony Awards are Going Digital

How to Enjoy Theatre in Lockdown

And make sure to Follow Us on Twitter!

tony awards digital
indoor theatre returns
General Theatre

Indoor Theatre Returns: Equity Approves Productions at Three Theatres

For the first time since March, Actors’ Equity has agreed to allow three different theatres here in the United States to put on indoor productions.

This is the first time since theatres were shut down that an indoor production has been approved. All three theatres are small nonprofits in New England, where the first outdoor productions were recently approved as well.

Music Theater of Connecticut will be performing a one-man show, and Northern Stage in Vermont will be performing a one-woman show. However, in another first, the third theatre, Weathervane Theater in New Hampshire, will be producing three shows in repertory, including a seven-person version of Little Shop of Horrors. According to the New York Times, the show is still trying to figure out how to stage parts of the show like the dental exam and of course interactions with Audrey II, but will be limiting contact between actors – meaning no kiss between Seymour and Audrey.

The theatres will operate at a socially distanced fraction of their normal capacity, though Music Theater of Connecticut will be also selling online tickets to make up the difference. The Weathervane shows will also feature no brass or wind instruments due to virus-spreading fears, and though it will require masks for moving about the theatre, no masks are required while in seats.

Throughout the country, many nonunion theatres have put on shows with nonunion actors, but this marks the first union-approved indoor productions. Actors’ Equity has been understandably hesitant to approve shows, but the New England area having a low number of cases is why these theatres will be the first allowed to return.

Before this, the only approved indoor show was Diana on Broadway, which will not even have an audience. Actors’ Equity also recently similarly approved a show for streaming at East Lynne Theater Company in New Jersey. And in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Black theatre company Front Porch Arts Collective has been approved to stage a series of cabaret performances outside the Central Square Theater.

I have conflicting feelings about this. On one hand, theatre workers need to work, and this definitely represents a positive turn in all the darkness of this pandemic. On the other hand…I still worry that things are not safe. It would take just one carrier to infect everyone else, and we would have another massive outbreak on our hands. I would like to remain cautiously optimistic, though I do wish there was another way (meaning, government financial support) and while I do understand the desire to get back to “normal,” you certainly will not catch me sitting inside a theatre until a vaccine is safe and available.

I don’t know. I miss theatre. I’m just worried about things going wrong, and having to wait even longer for live theatre to return. What do you think? Are you in support of indoor theatre being allowed or against it? Share your thoughts below. I am interesting in hearing both sides!

f you liked this post, check out:

What Will Broadway Look Like When it Returns?

How to Enjoy Theatre in Lockdown

And make sure to Follow Us on Twitter!

indoor theatre returns
socially distANCED THEATRE
Broadway, General Theatre

Socially Distanced Theatre? Berkshire Theatre Group’s Godspell

Live theatre is back? Well, sort of. Berkshire Theatre Group in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, has recently begun performances of “Godspell Under the Tent” in what is one of the first returns to live theatre in America, and one of the first Equity-approved performances as well. (The other approved performance, FYI, is also in MA – it’s Barrington Stage Company’s production of David Cale’s one-man show Harry Clark.)

The show follows strict safety guidelines from the audience to the performers. From BTG’s website:

Temperature scans will be done for patrons at their point of entry. No-contact scanning stations for tickets will be placed at point of entry, spaced at least 6 feet from the temperature scan. Free-standing hand sanitizer stations will be placed at various locations throughout the space. Patrons will be required to wear masks. One way traffic patterns will be enforced with arrows and 6 foot markers on the floor, as well as lines down the center of hallways, to and from the tent, restrooms and concessions. The restrooms will have entrance and exits that are separate and one way. Every other stall, urinal and sink will be marked not usable. A doctor/nurse will be on duty for all performances. Additional safeguards will also be in place.

Not only do they have those safeguards, the cast is distanced from each other as well on stage. Ben Brantley outlined these choices in his New York Times review.

The golden rule here takes the form of their nearly always keeping at least six feet from one another. Whenever they have to cross one another’s paths they make sure their masks (bunched around their necks) are pulled into place. When a chorus sings Schwartz’s tuneful earwig pop gospel — an activity known to let spittle fly — it does so behind the transparent panels of Randall Parsons’s beautifully utilitarian set. (Matthew E. Adelson’s patterned lighting helps keep it from looking like a doctor’s waiting room.)

Now, I love theatre, and yes, I do love Godspell – I think it was a great metaphorical choice to be one of the first returns to theatre. But I have to say…is it worth it? The audience and the performers both have to wear masks. Everyone has to be socially distanced. And though I understand they are all taking massive precautions, it still feels risky to me. The NYT review features a picture of the socially distanced audience and you can clearly see two theatre-goers wearing their masks incorrectly. Despite the safeguards, there are certainly still risks. I worry especially about the crew, who absolutely find it harder to socially distance and be safe while setting up things like the set and microphones.

Though, I have to say, in regards to it being worth it – it does appear that all performances are sold out (this may be because the distanced audience can only seat 75, however).

Overall, I guess I would have to attend the production and see how everything works myself to make an absolute judgment on this show. I do wonder if we will be seeing more Equity-approved productions similar to this. I know that the Surflight Theatre in Beach Haven, NJ has been doing theatre under a tent as well. I only know this because it is local to me, so I am sure there are other theatres around the country doing the same thing.

To me, however, it just doesn’t seem worth it. There are just too many risks involved for cast, crew and audiences alike. I empathize with those out of work, but this doesn’t feel right to me. Though, with the government resisting funding the arts during this time, I can understand why artists feel the need to put on socially distanced theatre. I wish that unemployment would be extended, and that the arts would receive grants and funding to ensure that when it is time, it can return fully. But I would much rather everyone stay home and wait until we can perform theatre safely.

If you liked this post, check out:

No More Stage Dooring? Live Performance Safety Guidelines Revealed

And make sure to follow us on Twitter!

taylor swift musical
General Theatre, Theatre Adjacent

I Am Begging Taylor Swift to Write a Musical

Okay, I promise this post is actually going to be about theatre (and no, it will have nothing to do with that disastrous Cats movie that we do not need to speak of on this blog). However, it must be said: I love Taylor Swift. I am 100% a Swiftie. It’s just who I am – I’ve loved her ever since Teardrops On My Guitar was released, which means I’ve actually been a Taylor Swift fan longer than I’ve been a theatre fan. Anyway, this post is about her latest album, Folklore.

I assume we’ve all had the chance to listen to Folklore, yes? And we all love it, right? Of course.

So at this point, you’re probably wondering, what does this have to do with theatre? It’s because I want Taylor Swift to write a musical. And I hope I am not alone in this.

This is a thought I have expressed before on this blog, and it is one that I will keep hoping for until it happens. Even if you do not like Taylor Swift as a musician (which I don’t know how you could, but anyway) you have to admit she is an incredible storyteller. Her songwriting skills are basically unmatched. And her latest album, Folklore, is no exception.

Many people and fans wish for a Taylor Swift jukebox musical. This, of course, would be incredible, and a few years ago they actually did a concert version of this at 54 Below which was, yes, incredible. And a jukebox musical would be all well and good, but I want more.

I want Taylor Swift to write her own, original musical. Think about it! In my opinion, Folklore has proven that Taylor Swift can write in any genre. Her versatility is incredible, and that is why she is the perfect candidate to write a musical. It would probably be the most beautiful, haunting love story.

Of course, a jukebox musical with her existing material would already be great, but I think one composed of wholly new material could be even better. Either based on source material or an original story. But I think Taylor Swift has proven that her original stories are strong enough on their own – wouldn’t it be great to have a full fleshed out story of the love triangle present on Folklore?

In conclusion, a Taylor Swift musical would simply be the best thing ever. Thank you for coming to my TED talk.

And if you’re searching for another connection to theatre, Patti LuPone herself is a fan. Just in case you needed any more convincing.

What would you like to see out of a potential Taylor Swift musical? What other artists would you love to see write a musical? Let me know!

If you liked this post, check out:

Musicians Who Should Write Musicals

And follow us on Twitter!

theatre tiktok
Broadway, General Theatre, Theatre Online

My Favorite Theatre TikTok Accounts

Okay, I know I may be a little too old for the demographic, but guys, I am obsessed with watching TikToks. They are so clever and funny, and there are so many of them perfectly tailored to the things you like! There is a ton of theatrical content to find on TikTok. I know I haven’t seen them all, but I’ve found a few favorites along the way. So here is a list of my favorite theatre TikTok accounts – and if you have any recommendations, let me know!

@rockysroad

Rocky Paterra is a very talented actor and singer who is also incredibly hilarious. He does the BEST Lin-Manuel Miranda impression I have ever seen. Just watching his raps will make your day. Plus, he writes his own music, too. Please watch all of his videos now. Here’s another LMM parody…and another one just because.

@jjniemann

JJ Niemann was a swing in Book of Mormon on Broadway, and he makes hilarious Broadway related TikToks. Most of his videos revolve around the Broadway experience, like auditioning, getting cast in shows and of course, making fun of Cats. After all, the best kinds of theatre kids are the ones who can make fun of themselves. His videos are also occasionally educational – check out his journey to Broadway!

@katxkelly

Kat Kelly is different from the other creators I’ve talked about so far. Instead of being a performer, she actually was the social media manager for Waitress the Musical. Not all of her TikToks are theatre related (she’s also responsible for a couple viral videos), but the ones that are can be really interesting. Or, the ones that aren’t informative are super funny. Also, she kinda has my dream job, so Kat, if you’re reading this…hit me up on LinkedIn?

@avernomusicals

Averno Musicals is really interesting. If you are really into TikTok aesthetics like cottagecore and dark academia this is right up your alley. It’s more than just musicals, it has turned into a multimedia universe in all genres. Morgan Smith, the creator, already came up with one viral internet musical, Oceanborn. Now, they’ve created a whole universe in Averno, and honestly, it’s pretty incredible. The aesthetics are so relaxing, too. The music sounds really good, the team is young and so talented, and they’re working on recording albums now. I can’t wait to hear them!

@itsmaggieschneider

Maggie Schneider is for my fellow former emo kids who also are theatre kids. (There’s a lot of us, right?) She makes pop punk versions of your favorite musical theatre songs. And they’re so good! She has a great voice, and who doesn’t secretly still love pop punk music in 2020? She also does covers of pop punk songs, and has her own band too. But now I want a Broadway Goes Punk album. Who’s with me?

What’s your favorite theatre TikTok account? I would love to discover more accounts and have more reasons to waste my day away on this app. Let me know what you think!

If you liked this post, check out:

How to Enjoy Theatre in Lockdown

The Best Broadway Shows You Can Stream

Follow us on Twitter!

live performance safety guidelines
Broadway, General Theatre

No More Stage Dooring? Live Performance Safety Guidelines Revealed

Could stage dooring be a thing of the past? According to the 27-page guidelines for COVID-19 reopening released Tuesday by the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees Stagecraft Safety Committee (IATSE), it is at least for now. These guidelines are intended to be for IATSE members, employers and local unions, but they are interesting to read for anyone interested in how theatre is going to come back. And, despite being 27 pages, it is only supposed to provide general information, according to the IATSE website. Still, 27 pages is a lot, so I’ll go through some of the more important (and interesting) points of the guidelines.

No More Stage Dooring

“Eliminate and discourage the audience and public from congregating outside of the stage
door post performance.”

Like I said above, it’s true! Fans won’t be able to line up outside the theatre for autographs and photos. And honestly, this one is just common sense. While I personally love going to the stage door, as I’m sure many of you reading do as well, it’s way more important to keep the performers safe. Plus, with some of the entitled fans I have been seeing, maybe it’s for the best to keep stage dooring away for a bit.

There will also be no backstage tours given. You’ll even have to grab a Playbill yourself from a rack or table – no more being handed to you.

PPE for Everyone

“All required PPE will be provided and maintained by the employer”

The guidelines require that Personal Protective Equipment is provided to all cast and crew, as well as proper training for how to use it. PPE should be worn everywhere that it can be worn. Everyone also has to practice good hygiene standards and physical distancing when they can.

Special COVID-19 Officers

“One or more autonomous COVID-19 Compliance Officer(s) [CCO] with specialized
training, responsibility and authority for COVID-19 safety compliance and enforcement will
be in the workplace to implement the Covid-19 safety plan and address issues as they arise.”

The CCO will be in charge of a slew of things, including overseeing adherence to things like social distancing, disinfecting, testing, symptom monitoring and anything else the employer decides. The CCO (and whatever assistants they need) should always be available during work hours and should be accessible to all personnel. They also are the ultimate authority in this regard.

General COVID-19 Plans

“Venues must have a written COVID-19 safety plan in place that specifies necessary policies,
practices and procedures. In multi-employer venues there must be a process for coordinating activities related to prevention and control of Covid-19.”

So, everyone needs a plan. Makes enough sense. There are also some more specific plans for how to prepare. Diagnostic testing is good, but as the document notes, it can be imperfect. So it is a good start to reduction rather than a perfect answer. This will depend on how often the employee in question is exposed to the public, and the testing protocols will change as testing does too.

Daily screening will be necessary for workers to ensure that they are not experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms. If they are, they should not come to work (obviously) and if they develop symptoms on-site, they should be sent home. Those who do test positive should alert the CCO, who will alert those who were close to the sick person so that they can immediately quarantine.

If you want to read this for yourself, I’ll link the document again here. What do you guys think? How different do you think theatre will be when it opens up? Let me know!

If you liked this post, check out:

How to Enjoy Theatre in Lockdown

Follow us on Twitter!