Dayton theater group cancels upcoming season

Dayton Playhouse presented "Man of La Mancha" Jan. 17-Feb.2, 2020. The organization has canceled its 2020-2021 season in response to the coronavirus pandemic. (Contributed Photo by Art Fabian)
Dayton Playhouse presented "Man of La Mancha" Jan. 17-Feb.2, 2020. The organization has canceled its 2020-2021 season in response to the coronavirus pandemic. (Contributed Photo by Art Fabian)

The show will not go on at the Dayton Playhouse after all. The organization, which has entertained the Miami Valley for more than 60 years, has canceled its 2020-2021 season in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Citing careful deliberation and discussions with numerous experts ranging from the Center for Disease Control to professionals within the New York theater community, the Playhouse deemed it best to cancel its season out of safety precautions. For example, the social distancing standard of 6 feet expands to 35 feet for singing, making auditions, rehearsals and performances a huge challenge.

“This was a heart-wrenching decision for the board,” said Matthew Lindsay, Playhouse board chair. “We weighed options and discussed alternatives but in the end we all agreed canceling the season was the best and safest route to pursue.”

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As the Playhouse moves forward, organizers are considering presenting scripts that could be produced on stage or by way of streaming if necessary.

“These are unprecedented times for everyone,” Lindsay said. “The performing arts have definitely been hit particularly hard but we’re creative people and collectively we’re getting creative.”

In related news, the Playhouse has revamped its FutureFest programming next month. The annual in-person festival including adjudication and a declared winner is canceled as previously reported but three of the six finalists will be available for streaming. There will be live talkbacks with the playwrights. A series of three Playwright Dialogues with all six playwrights and moderated by Lindsay will also take place.

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The streamed plays are:

"Before Lesbians" by Elana Gartner of Brooklyn, NY. A Civil War-era drama concerning Charlotte and Vivian, military wives who fall in love while their husbands fight on the battlefield. Kim Warrick directs.

"Ghost of a Chance" by Kimberly Shimer of Media, PA. In this contemporary comedy of love and loss, a deceased wife gets the chance to return to earth to reconcile with her husband. Annie Pesch directs.

"The Good Deli" by Kevin Cirone of Wilburn, MA. After a family patriarch has a health scare, he longs to visit the delicatessen that reminds him of better days, particularly with his daughter. This is another contemporary comedy exploring the central theme of reconciliation as well as forgiveness and hope. Debra Kent directs.

The Playhouse hopes to offer streaming of each play for one week. Ticket prices and availability will tentatively be announced by June 19. The Playhouse is also selling commemorative FutureFest T-shirts in recognition of this year's lineup. T-shirts are priced at $19. Orders must be placed by June 27. For more information about the shirts and FutureFest overall visit daytonplayhouse.com.