Upper Canada Playhouse, Morrisburg

After having cancelled its two Spring concerts, Upper Canada Playhouse is also cancelling its 4-show Summer season and plans to shift the Spring and Summer shows to 2021. According to Artistic Director Donnie Bowes, this difficult decision made sense on many fronts with the summer being so close and the social distancing policies that COVID-19 require affecting live performances. The theatre is also cancelling its summer theatre school sessions. The Playhouse looks forward to the possibility of keeping its Fall and Christmas shows on schedule at this point and will announce any update on those by the end of August.

The Playhouse will start calling patrons on May 4 to offer a refund or gift certificate for next year’s season and asks everyone to please be patient as they’ll be overwhelmed with calls and emails. Also in compliance with health and safety advisories, the theatre will not be open to the public at this time and asks audiences to contact box office by phone, email or fax only.

‘Our chief focus right now is keeping in touch with our audience and letting them know what our plans are going forward. Like our theatre colleagues throughout the province and country, we have had to adapt to our current reality that theatre and sports events are challenged right now because they involve crowds,’ remarks Bowes. ‘It’s a shame, because the theatre provides entertainment for many people, as well as work for a lot of actors, technicians and many local employees. It’s also a substantial boost to the local economy and tourist trade’.

The Playhouse has been in close contact with other theatres as well as the associations that represent professional theatres across the country. Many Zoom meetings have been shared to ascertain how theatres can navigate the ongoing crisis and restructure their seasons with a look to the future. Cancelling and postponing shows can sometimes be more difficult than programming them in the first place. Contacting playwrights, actors, technicians, agents and audiences to re-schedule reservations and contracts, as well as reaching out to marketing outlets to cancel ads, radio spots and other promotional activities are taking a lot of the theatre’s time right now instead of the usual rehearsal and production preparations.

‘Of course it’s tough,’ adds Bowes. ‘Show business is a terrific business to be in. You can’t beat the live experience with a large audience. In tough times in the past the theatre has historically helped folks feel a little better. In fact Vaudeville thrived like never before during the Great Depression. Unfortunately we can’t turn to theatre right now for an entertaining diversion because of the social distancing limitations that we all know are needed to conquer this crisis. But just imagine how great it will be when we can all enjoy live music & laughter again. And we will. You can bet on that. Pandemics are hard to get rid of. But so are theatres.’

Contact the Playhouse Box Office at 613-543-3713, 1-877-550-3650 or [email protected].

Upper Canada Playhouse