Stratford Playhouse’s take on how the shows must go on even during a worldwide pandemic.
BY MONICA DERU AND ELLIOT SCHEIN
Stratford Playhouse is a Tommy Tune award winning establishment that thrives with the talent of many people. Sadly, due to the COVID-19 restrictions the Playhouse has to move their shows to the second semester. Playhouse artistic director Cece Prudhomme explains that part of the reason they decided to postpone the shows was to wait and see how Broadway handles their opening, which is scheduled to happen on Jan. 3. The directors are already planning how to run rehearsals while following safety protocols. This will mean, at least in the beginning, limiting the amount of people called to each rehearsal and working on small scenes with only a few characters.
Along with COVID-19 restrictions, the playhouse also has to manage their season in the absence of an auditorium. Because construction for the new auditorium isn’t predicted to finish until 2022, this year’s shows were planned to be performed at Queensbury Theatre, The Hobby Center’s Zilkha Hall, and the Westchester Academy Auditorium. It is a privilege for the Playhouse to be able to perform at these locations, but quarantine has quickly turned that blessing into a curse.
“Being at the mercy of other people means we always have to be on top of everything, and this year will require a lot of creative scheduling,” said Prudhomme.
Playhouse Technical Director David Clayton also shared his concerns for this year’s shows. He is concerned about the behind the scenes of the shows. With all the needed transportation, building of set pieces, and constant sanitizing of any equipment will definitely slow down the rehearsal process. We sat down with both of the directors and asked them questions.
How are rehearsals going to work?
Cece: We will start off with little stuff like scenes and maybe vocals with a few people. We will probably have intensives in November or December, and it shouldn’t be too much of a rush because the shows are postponed and we have time. The rehearsals will be spaced over time.
Clayton: We don’t know. We need to see how the first week of school is going to work. If it works out well, we will slowly start getting back into the swing of things and start rehearsal for the January musical in October.
How does not having an auditorium affect everything?
Cece: Because we are at the mercy of other people we had to change the dates quickly. It will be hard to move rehearsals around while social distancing. We’ve limited the number of people in each number and we will have to use some creative scheduling.
Clayton: We can’t build sets, limited in space, and will only have a few days in each space to prepare for the shows. The tech one kids will have nothing to build. Also we have no idea of how power tools can be used because we have to sanitize them after each person’s use. Power tools are tech theater’s life so we have to come up with a solution to this problem quickly.
How do you feel about the UIL one act play and the Spring play?
Clayton: Both are currently up in the air. We don’t know if we are allowed to participate in UIL, and with new scheduling of the shows the spring play might not happen. We are preparing for all possibilities.