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COVID-19 restrictions, closures force London’s Grand Theatre to revise 2021-22 season

The Grand Theatre in London, Ont., on May 26, 2021. Matthew Trevithick/980 CFPL

The opening date of The Grand Theatre’s long-awaited production of Room has been pushed back for a second time because of COVID-19, this time because of the province’s newly implemented pandemic restrictions, which will see theatres and other venues closed for the next three weeks.

In addition, theatre officials say two other shows slated for the current 2021-22 season, which began in October 2021, are also being rescheduled, while two more are being suspended outright and moved to next season.

The restrictions, which took effect Wednesday, come as the region and province deal with a surge in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations driven by the highly infectious Omicron variant.

Restaurants, gyms, cinemas and other indoor venues were also forced to close, while retail stores and personal care services were limited to half capacity.

Read more: May 27, 2021 — Live entertainment to return to London’s Grand Theatre for upcoming 2021-22 season

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As a result of the mandated closure, the Grand Theatre says it will once again have to delay the planned opening of Room, the stage adaptation of Emma Donoghue‘s book of the same name. Donoghue also wrote the stage play.

The North American premiere of the show had been scheduled to run Jan. 11 to 29, but will now run from March 8 to March 19, with opening night on March 11 — two years after the production’s original March 2020 opening date.

Also being rescheduled are the musical Grow and an abridged version of Peter Brennan’s Jeans ‘n Classics series, the theatre says.

The world premiere of Grow, production of which was also discontinued in the spring of 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, will still take place in April, however, officials say it will be rescheduled and run April 19 to 30.

The production follows two Amish teens, Hannah and Ruth, who embark on a rumspringa — a period when Amish youth embark on their own in the world beyond their communities.

Jeans ‘n Classics, meanwhile, will now begin on March 26 with U2 – Rattle and Hum, followed by She’s Got It – Volume 1 on May 12, and The Music of Pink Floyd on June 16.

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Two anticipated productions, Controlled Damage and Rubaboo: Songs and Stories With Andrea Menard, are being shelved entirely and will instead appear next season, the theatre says.

Controlled Damage, from award-winning, London-based playwright Andrea Scott, showcases and illuminates the life of Canadian civil rights icon Viola Desmond, and was originally set to premiere on the main Spriet Stage in April.

Rubaboo, described by the Grand as a “musical feast” of the award-winning actor, singer and storyteller’s Métis culture, had been set to run the first two weeks of February on the Auburn Developments Stage.

The Grand says ticket-holders can contact the theatre at 519-672-8800 to discuss their orders, reschedule seats or transfer the value of tickets to account credits.

“The Grand believes that the arts play a crucial role in difficult and uncertain times. While the show must go on, we continue to keep the health and safety of our audiences, artists, staff, and volunteers paramount in our daily operations and in all we do,” the theatre’s website states.

The Grand’s current closure comes roughly three months after the theatre opened its doors to the public for the first time since the pandemic began in March 2020. It also marked the first time Londoners had seen the Grand’s interior since it underwent a massive, multi-million-dollar renovation while it was closed.

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The pandemic forced the Grand to scrap its 2020-21 season and instead provide virtual offerings, and saw the theatre record its first operating deficit in 21 years.

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