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Some Regional Theatres Continue Plans for Re-Opening Despite Increasing Cases

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Some Regional Theatres Continue Plans for Re-Opening Despite Increasing Cases

As many states continue on the path of re-opening- some faster than others- several non-Equity theatres throughout the country are continuing with plans to present live productions. One dinner theatre in Florida, a state with a recent spike in COVID-19 cases, has already been back in operation for two weeks.

Fort Myers' Broadway Palm, currently presenting Love, Sex and the IRS, has been performing to 25% of its usual 448-seat capacity and on June 25, it plans to step it up to 50% when it opens The Sound of Music. The theatre re-opens with new safety measures in place, including temperature checks and adjusted seating arrangements that are "private and appropriately spaced" to encourage social distancing. Masks are not mandatory of guests but encouraged. The theatre is also providing hand sanitizer stations and using UV lights to kill bacteria.

"I continue to be cautiously optimistic," owner Will Prather told the Fort Myers News-Press. "I do believe people are looking for things to do."

Broadway Palm isn't the only theatre trying to get back to regular programming. Orem Utah's SCERA opened The Scarlet Pimpernel on June 5; Tyrone, Georgia's Legacy Theatre opened You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown on June 5; Cocoa, Florida's Cocoa Village Playhouse will re-open on June 18 with Into the Woods; Fort Worth, Texas's Jubilee Theatre will re-open with How I Got Over on June 19; and Curtain and Lights Theatre Company of Decatur, Alabama is in rehearsals for Little House on the Prairie the Musical, which is scheduled to open August 6.

All three theatres are non-Equity houses, meaning actors can be employed without breaking previously set rules set by Actors Equity Association regarding returning to work. An April 21 membership rule states that members may only return to work when the union deems it safe to do so; at the same time Equity retained Dr. Michaels to develop a plan where member safety is put first and decisions are made with a clear safety and scientific basis.

Just last week, Actors' Equity Association's Gail Gabler gave a statement regarding a lack of safety measures being taken in Texas, "Equity is continuing to work closely with our public health consultant, Dr. David Michaels, on creating science-based protocols for theaters to safely open so that Equity members may to return to work."

In New York City, Phase 1 of re-opening is still underway. As of June 15, Broadway productions are shut down through Labor Day.

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