Gloucester Stage Company has become the latest in an ever-lengthening list of theater companies regionally and nationally to cancel their summer seasons because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The decision was announced Wednesday by managing director Christopher Griffith and artistic director Robert Walsh, just three weeks before the scheduled opening of the company’s first show of the season, “Tiny Beautiful Things,’’ an adaptation by Nia Vardalos of Cheryl Strayed’s memoir.
“We’re small and we’re spry and we’re scrappy here at Gloucester Stage, and so we stayed in it for quite some time," Griffith said in a video that also featured a somber-looking Walsh. “But unfortunately, looking at the data, and keeping track of what we’re hearing from our governor and from our local unions, we decided to postpone our 2020 season in its entirety and move that to 2021.’’ Griffith said that the “safety and health’’ of audience members was the paramount consideration in the decision to cancel.
The cancellation of the season means that Gloucester Stage will “miss out on over $620,000 in revenue this year,’’ according to a statement posted on the theater’s website. However, the statement added that thanks to donors and “a successful 40th season’’ in 2019, “[W]e are in a safe place to weather this storm.’’
The Gloucester Stage announcement follows a spate of cancellations or postponements regionally and nationally. Williamstown Theatre Festival and Lenox’s Shakespeare & Company canceled their summer seasons, as did New York’s Shakespeare in the Park. The Oregon Shakespeare Festival, a regional theater powerhouse, canceled its fall season. The Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis went even further, announcing it will remain closed until March 2021, with the nine-show season that had been slated to begin this September cut to three.
In Boston, facing steep odds, Commonwealth Shakespeare Company is in talks with the city about possible ways to move forward with its Free Shakespeare on the Common production of “The Tempest’’ that is scheduled to start on July 22.
Along with “Tiny Beautiful Things,’’ the productions scheduled for this summer at Gloucester Stage included Ken Ludwig’s “Baskerville,’’ Theresa Rebeck’s “Seared,’’ James Sheldon’s “Reparations,’’ and Ken Riaf’s “Think of Me Tuesday.’’ They will be presented next season, starting in June 2021. Gloucester Stage hopes to keep the artistic teams intact for the rescheduled performances, according to spokeswoman Heidi Dallin.
The company is going to broaden its existing “NeverDark Series’’ of play readings and lectures into the digital realm by filming staged readings of new plays and livestreaming them online, along with archived performances.