On Thursday, March 12, director Scott Spence and his four-member cast for Steve Martin’s comedy “Meteor Showers” were two and a half weeks into rehearsals with two and a half weeks to go before opening. The set was 80% built and other facets of the show’s design were rapidly moving forward.
The Beck Center for the Arts’ next big mainstage musical, the Tony Award-winning “Something Rotten,” was fully cast and open calls for its next production in the small Studio Theatre, Ayad Akhtar's Pulitzer Prize-winning play “Disgraced,” had just been completed.
“That was when Ohio Governor Mike DeWine announced limitations on public gatherings,” says Spence, who is also Beck’s artistic director,” and everyone had a sense that things would get worse before they got better.” So it was decided among the actors, designers and administrators that “Meteor Showers” would be postponed. “And though we are seriously looking at recapturing titles from this season for next season,” adds Spence, “until we hear more from the Governor and better understand what else is going on in the near future, we will sit tight and lick our wounds.”
Sitting tight is not really in Spence’s nature, so he is busy figuring out the prospect of social distancing in his mainstage theater and devising seating charts that factor in 6-foot separation among patrons and the staggering of rows.
“The best case scenario is that we have 125-130 seats, about 25% occupancy, when people hungry for theater are ready to come back.”
So the question becomes how does a theater whose brand and business model revolves around sizable musicals pare down costs and still maintain its standard of quality and new guidelines for safety? “We just don’t know yet,” says Spence, who is also balancing the arts education arm of the Beck Center, “but it is certainly something we are constantly working on.”
Photo: Nick Drake (from left), Greg Violand, Charles Mayhew Miller and the ensemble in the 2020 production of “The Scottsboro Boys”
Photo / Roger Mastrioanni
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