In response to the continuing coronavirus pandemic and with the knowledge that the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s reopening of Southeastern Pennsylvania is still pending, the historic Bucks County Playhouse announced it will cancel its 2020 summer season.
In making the announcement, producers announced that a revised 2021 season will include Auntie Mame, Kinky Boots, Dames at Sea and Evita.
Producing director Alexander Fraser, executive producer Robyn Goodman and producer Josh Fiedler made the official announcement in a video sent to patrons and subscribers asking them to keep the faith and continue their support of the Playhouse as it works to re-open as soon as it is viable.
As a service to the New Hope and Lambertville community, and with the goal of producing revenue to offset health care costs for furloughed staff, the Playhouse’s restaurant, The Deck, has continued to operate throughout the shutdown as a take-out and delivery enterprise. Plans to re-open the restaurant and expand outdoor dining options are in place for when the county reopens.
“While it has become obvious that our full subscription season can’t happen this year, we trust that at some point this summer, The Deck will be back in business, perhaps with an outdoor courtyard cafe. As soon as it’s possible to re-open the Playhouse, we are planning to finish our run of the new musical Other World – and then produce a variety of play readings and concerts in the fall and a holiday show,” said Fraser. “In the meantime, we are in an active hibernation right now – moving our youth education programming online, providing take-out and delivery service from The Deck, and launching Playhouse Live! online Sunday nights and a new weekly newsletter.”
The Playhouse’s decision to cancel the summer productions comes after weeks of deliberation and extensive revisions to both the budgets and schedules.
“Our top priority is keeping our staff, our artists, and our audiences safe and out of harm’s way,” said Goodman. “We don’t want anyone to feel pressure to come to the Playhouse before it feels comfortable for them.”
The Playhouse shut down on March 13, just after the dress rehearsal for the world-premiere musical Other World. With no revenue in sight, the Playhouse staff was temporarily furloughed. Playhouse leadership is currently preparing a fundraising strategy to provide for the continuation of health care benefits for the staff, as well as to ensure the long-term financial viability of the Playhouse.
“As you can imagine, we have been playing out a variety of scenarios, and we didn’t want to reach out until we had a viable plan that we thought would work for everyone, given all the variables,” said Fiedler. “We know that smaller venues like ours may not be the first to re-open, and it’s clear that before we can go back into production, we will have to be assured we can keep actors safe during rehearsals and onstage, as well as follow recommended protocols for protecting our audiences.”
“This really is Bucks County’s playhouse, and support from our community – both emotional and financial – is what keeps us going. We want to come back strong, and we are grateful that our patrons are sticking with us through this extremely challenging time,” said Fraser.
Here are some details about the 2021 season:
– A brand-new take on the 1958 classic play Auntie Mame by Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee, and based on the novel by Patrick Dennis.
– The Tony-winning Kinky Boots, which Fraser helped develop as a producer in New York. Music and lyrics are by Grammy-winning legend Cyndi Lauper, who is writing a new musical that Goodman and Fiedler are producing for Broadway.
– A remounting of the recent Broadway revival of the musical comedy Dames at Sea. Tessa Grady, one of the original Broadway cast members and star of the Playhouse production of 42nd Street, will headline the show.
– A reimagined production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s classic musical Evita. This new production is set in an Argentina tango bar and was the first mounted at Bay Street Theater in 2018.
The Playhouse will be working to entice subscribers and donors to keep their subscriptions and giving in place in order to return at full strength. Legacy programs are being developed to honor patrons who pledge their support to the Playhouse.
“While it can seem bleak some days, thinking of all that we’ve lost and knowing there are still hard times to come, the one thing I know is that we will come back,” said Goodman. “The theater has lasted 3,000 years, through many pandemics and floods and even a pestilence or two, and we know the Playhouse will survive and be right back where we belong before you know it.”
Visit bcptheater.org for more information.