Still offstage for now
Last year Coastal Repertory Theatre unveiled its upcoming productions during a weekend event that drew a crowd. In the era of COVID-19, theater patrons are navigating a much different world. Review file photo

While Half Moon Bay’s Coastal Repertory Theatre was forced to close its doors in March, theater managers have been hard at work planning alternatives to continue bringing the arts to the community.

Director of Operations Ginger Cutter explained how they began by pushing things back and postponing shows to later dates in the hope that things would improve. They ultimately made the decision to cancel the 2020 season. “In reality I think that the arts is one of the last things that’s going to be able to come back,” Cutter stated.

Danny Martin, board chair and frequent actor at Coastal Rep, noted that, for the acting community, this time of social isolation is especially hard.

“Community theater is very much a passion for many actors,” he said. With productions being canceled and postponed into an uncertain future, he lamented that it's hard for actors to be able to work on their craft.

“We want to bring back arts and culture to the Coastside because it's needed,” he stated. He added that the shows in the near future just might look a little different.

Leadership hopes to engage audiences for events such as a virtual streaming of a show or perhaps an outdoor performance as early as September or October. They are also currently planning a full season beginning this coming January.

“Whether we can do it or not, we don’t know,” Cutter said. “We just have to play it by ear. I know there’s a lot of people that would like the opportunity to come to the theater.”

The theater will also continue the fifth anniversary of its annual gala on Sept. 12, but with a virtual twist. Ticket holders will be able to arrive at the theater to pick up an “elegant” to-go meal including cocktails. There will also be a photo op designed for individual photos. The event, themed “Film Noir and Femme Fatale,” will continue from the comfort of ticketholders’ living rooms with broadcasted silent auctions, a short comedic skit and even some vocal performances.

“It’s a product in motion,” Cutter called the gala. “I think people are going to be surprised at how well it comes across.” She mentioned that she hopes it will garner continued support from previous gala attendees, but also appeal to new patrons.

While the next event open to the public may be a virtual one, theater organizers are carefully constructing safety protocols to follow when they are able to reopen their doors. They will be using PureTabs from EvaClean to sanitize indoor spaces. And Cutter noted, with 158 seats in the theater, their system “will make it so much easier to handle and make our patrons feel confident that we are doing everything to ensure their safety and health.”

They also have new plexiglass ready to protect the box office in addition to an intercom system that can be used for communicating through the glass.

“It’s tough to keep a theater building going when there’s nothing bringing in any revenue,” Cutter lamented. A virtual gala, with tickets priced at $125 apiece, will definitely help bring in some much needed revenue while also offering a chance to experience the arts in a safe, socially distant way.

Donations to the Coastal Repertory Theatre can be made on its website: https://coastalrep.com/participate/giving-and-donations/

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