Due to the rising cases of the Omicron variant of COVID-19, a handful of live performances in Calgary have closed the curtain on shows temporarily.
Many theatres have gone to great lengths to provide a safe space for audiences and performers, but given the spread of the virus, difficult decisions had to be made.
One Yellow Rabbit’s High Performance Rodeo (HPR) is being cancelled this year. Producer Oliver Armstrong said the festival was scheduled to start on Jan. 18 and take place at a number of different venues involving nearly 80 artists.
“We have been working flat out for 12 months, this is tough,” Armstrong said.
“We’ve been expecting the unexpected, but even this feels shocking and strange to make the announcement we can’t do public events this month,” Armstrong said.
“It is super bad timing and we are looking towards options for showing postponed versions of some of our work.”
Without being able to provide the full experience and audience engagement of HPR, they made the tough call. Ticketholders can wait to hear about rescheduling dates for performances but refunds are also available.
“Intrinsically, we rabbits are enthusiastic, optimistic and that hasn’t changed,” Armstrong said. “If we can’t present the fun, engaging, in-person festival experience — we couldn’t present High Performance Rodeo in 2022.”
Artists like Peter Moller agree, saying it’s prudent to pause and instead look forward to getting back on the stage in the spotlight.
“Maybe we forgot what that feels like in public and just a general lifting so we are happy to wait and find the right moment,” Moller said.
“Because what we want to do is add levity to people’s lives — we are going to need it.”
The Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra has also cancelled their two January performances.
Chinese classical pianist Yuja Wang was scheduled to be in concert on Jan.15 and 16, and concertmaster Diana Cohen was set to perform Mozart on Jan. 21 and 22.
The orchestra is working to reschedule these concerts and plans to resume its Winter Series with I Rise on February 5. President and CEO, Marc Stevens, said it wasn’t an easy decision.
Despite distancing and a number of other safety measures, Stevens said they had to cancel due to rising COVID case numbers and travel complications for featured artists.
“Our players, they live to perform and to be next to each other, to be performing for audiences — and our audiences really want to be here,” Stevens said.
“Certainly people have missed being side by side, as safe as they can — because it’s not just listening to a performance, it’s about feeling the people around you.”
Other venues such as Vertigo Theatre are continuing with their shows. Evelyn Goj, director of marketing and communications, said their team is closely monitoring the COVID situation in the city and so far anticipates to open the upcoming production of Cipher on Saturday.
“Enhanced safety measures implemented by Vertigo in November are still in place, such as mandatory masks and patrons who are eligible to receive the vaccine be fully vaccinated. Over and above that, we will be reducing capacity by 25 per cent for the time being,” Goj said.
The Pumphouse Theatre has upcoming performances scheduled to start in late January and early February. Sabrina Mueller, Pumphouse production and operations manager, said safety measures are in place.
“We are fortunate to be able to have more flexibility in accommodating small audiences and social distancing than many of the other venues in Calgary, if our clients choose to proceed with performances at this time,” Mueller said.
Anastasia Broadway production postponed a year
Other larger productions have also been affected. Broadway Across Canada’s touring production of Anastasia has been rescheduled for next year.
The musical was originally scheduled to run at the Southern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium in Calgary Jan. 4 to 9 and the Northern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium in Edmonton Jan. 11 to 16.
“While we are of course disappointed that Anastasia couldn’t open in Calgary and Edmonton this month as planned, the well-being of our patrons, artists, staff and global community remains our utmost priority. We look forward to being back together at the theatre, very soon,” said Broadway Across Canada vice president Shana Levin.
The new dates for Anastasia are now in Edmonton on Feb. 21 to 26, 2023, and in Calgary on Feb. 28 to March 5, 2023.
Broadway Across Canada said current ticket holders who cannot accommodate the new dates should contact their original point of purchase.
The theatre organisation said its long-awaited return to Alberta will now take place this summer, when Hamilton begins performances in Edmonton June 21 to July 10, and in Calgary July 12 to 31.