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Sandwich Opera House performances for 2020-2021 season canceled

Opera house officials confirm executive director laid off due to COVID-19

Sandwich Opera House
Sandwich Opera House

SANDWICH – Attention, thespians, entertainers and patrons alike: Groups associated with organizing shows for the Sandwich Opera House announced the 2020-2021 show season at the opera house has been canceled due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Kathie Hart, vice-president of the Association to Restore City Hall and president of Indian Valley Theatre, said both organizations canceled their 2020 to 2021 show season, including performances of "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" that were supposed to debut March 20. She said both organizations were trying to wait to see how COVID-19 case spikes were going to shake out before deciding next courses of action, but, ultimately, the association canceled the season in May and the community theater group canceled the season in June.

“We just have to see if we can work out the details at all” in seeing if some shows could get rescheduled after all, Hart said.

The update comes after opera house officials announced in March the opera house would be closed until further notice due to the pandemic. Opera house officials also wrote in an April 17 social media post that daytime shows would be canceled for the remainder of the school year.

Like other community theater groups in the area, Hart said, the theater took a 100% cut in revenue since Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker issued a stay-at-home order starting mid-March that resulted in the closure of non-essential businesses for months – and the association is trying to work out awarding scholarships in the fall because it didn't have the funds to do so last spring. She said the money issues also resulted in the association initially furloughing Chris Roe as executive director for the opera house.

Hart said the association was able to bring Roe back for about a month or so but, shortly after Roe was brought back, the season was canceled. She deferred additional comment regarding Roe's layoff to Rick Crissip, president of the Association to Restore City Hall.

Roe confirmed she was no longer the executive director for the Sandwich Opera House. She said she knew very little about what is going on with the rest of the season and deferred comment to officials with the Association to Restore City Hall.

Crissip did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Record Newspapers.

Even whenever programming returns as normal for the opera house, Hart said, so many people have lost their jobs in the economic downturn resulting from the pandemic that it's going to be hard to convince people to attend a show at the opera house when the priority is going to go to food or gas.

“So that might be a little deterrent, too, when things get back going next year,” Hart said.

Until there's a vaccine, more effective treatments or there's an assurance there's no more sickness, Hart said, a lot is still going to be up in the air for the opera house, in her opinion. She said that's especially considering a lot of the patrons tend to fall into the higher risk populations for COVID-19.

Even then, Hart said, “I don’t know if anybody would want to come, to tell you the truth.”

At any rate, Hart said the opera house had been closed for more than 40 years before it reopened in the 1980s. She said the opera house needs a lot of support now more than ever to stay open and to attract more patrons that fall between 20 and 40 years old.

"So we’re always looking for suggestions for shows,” Hart said.

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