The Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park has made the decision to cancel this year's production of A Christmas Carol — a fact that would sadden even the most miserly of holiday Scrooges.
The staging of the Charles Dickens classic (adapted for theater by Howard Dallin) is a three-decade-old local tradition and was already slated to see some changes this year due to COVID-19.
In an interview with CityBeat theater critic Rick Pender in July, Playhouse artistic director Blake Robison said they were planning to do a solo rendition of A Christmas Carol this year.
The one-man stage adaptation was to run Dec. 1-27 with an alternating pair of actors (not yet announced) to bring “a little bit of holiday cheer and avoiding theatrical coal in everyone’s stockings," Robison said. He added that the typical Playhouse production “would not be possible — with 28 actors onstage and nearly as many backstage.”
You know, not enough social distancing, issues with that many humans onstage projecting their voices and possible germs onto each other and the audience, etc.
After A Christmas Carol, the Playhouse was to launch into a series of shows spread across the Marx mainstage and Shelterhouse stage starting in January. All shows will now be postponed until fall of 2021.
“This decision helps ensure our healthy return in the fall of 2021, while still offering some inspirational, alternative programming at the Playhouse,” said Robison. “Weekend special events require less time and risk to present, and this makes them a better option in the current environment. We plan to be very busy bringing our community virtual and socially distanced ways to experience live theatre in the coming months.”
Despite the fact that the state of Ohio's COVID guidance allows theaters to resume productions with 30% audience capacity, the Playhouse says that "the plays and musicals produced for the mainstage season require dozens of artists and staff to work in very close quarters indoors for extended periods of time. Even with comprehensive safety protocols in place, full productions are in perpetual risk of being shut down due to a COVID-19 spike or positive case."
Instead, the theater will continue to engage audiences this year with some special — and socially distanced — events.
The first "The Playhouse Presents" event will take place Nov. 20-22 at the 626-capacity main Marx Theatre with A Night of Joy with Daniel Beaty.
Other events include "Off the Grid," a series of "immersive theatrical experiences" held in non-Playhouse locales and online. The Children of the Corn Maze walking theatrical trail at Burger Farm on Oct. 24 is sold-out, but tickets are still available for the Nancy Brew Zoom Dunnit on Nov. 12 — where you can "observe scenes, track clues and interact with characters to solve a mystery, virtually."
The Playhouse will also continue its virtual outreach touring plays and virtual education programs.
Details for the 2021-22 season will be announced later and will feature some shows previously scheduled for this year. The Playhouse says they also hope to bring back the full production of A Christmas Carol in 2021.
Until then, subscriber tickets will be automatically rolled over for the 2021-22 season. Details will be sent to existing ticketholders with alternate options as well.
For more information about this year's socially distant events and ticketing, visit cincyplay.com.