Local theater having to settle for virtual success this season

Uncertainty surrounding the pandemic and politics has waylaid live, in-person theater in Cincinnati, at least for the foreseeable future. So, what’s next?

Announcements came early this week from Ensemble Theatre of Cincinnati, Playhouse in the Park and Cincinnati Shakespeare Company confirming fears of no in-theater theater for most, if not all of the 2020-21 season.

D. Lynn Meyers, producing artistic director of ETC, shared plans for online-only events through the end of the calendar year. The Playhouse and Cincy Shakes issued a joint statement postponing in-person performances until the 2021-22 season. Instead, all three companies are planning a slate of virtual performances, socially distanced special events and educational programming.

Health concerns and the uncertainty everyone is facing seem to be at the heart of this decision. According to the joint Playhouse/Cincy Shakes release, “The safety and well-being of patrons, artists and staff is of the utmost importance. Additionally, the plays and musicals produced for their mainstage seasons take substantial resources and represent much greater financial risk if forced to cancel due to a COVID-19 spike or positive case.”

Meyers said, “We have been cautious and have only made promises we are sure we can keep. The remainder of our season will come post-COVID, because this too shall pass.”

In addition to a new website, to debut Oct. 27-28, ETC is offering a series of virtual events in the weeks ahead, including Michael Blankenship bringing Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Mask of the Red Death” to life. (Oct. 30-31).

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 In case you missed it, check out David Lyman’s recent M&M profile of D. Lynn Meyers.

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