A traditional saying in the arts and entertainment business is that "the show must go on."
Unfortunately, when a pandemic strikes, groups of 100 or more becomes verboten, people are ordered to stay at home except for urgent situations and "social distancing" becomes the newest buzzword, that can become difficult.
Across the state, theaters and musicians have had to cancel shows to help stop the spread of the novel COVID-19, with everyone in the industry wondering when the show will go on again.
Mark Brown in Cuyahoga Falls, who is involved in several community theaters and is a musician, called the experience "jarring."
"I know it affected so many other theater groups, and I have several musician friends who played their last shows for the foreseeable future," Brown said. "My band does not have a show scheduled until April 24, but we are not sure about that show, although we are rehearsing. For someone who's hobbies are music and theater, these closures are a heavy blow. I know they are for the common good, but it still is jarring to have your busy life come screeching to a halt."
Brown described the week of March 9, when the shutdowns and restrictions started, as "a typical busy week for me."
He saw Eric Johnson in concert at the Kent Stage on Monday, was at ANTIC’s "Cinderella" rehearsal the next day, where he compiled a list of sound effects and music to gather for the show. He met with a friend Wednesday to work on anther March show.
"Then Thursday was ‘Cinderella’ final dress. It was then I first heard that the governor had set a limit and the show might not go on," he said.
After he and director Liz Hickman contacted other ANTIC board members for their opinion, he recorded the rehearsal on video.
"At the end of the rehearsal, Liz gathered the cast together and informed them that the show would not go on. She was upset and crying, as were many of the cast."
Julie Holiday, who grew up in Cuyahoga Falls and lives in Akron, said working in entertainment means "income can be variable"
"I’m grateful because I have learned and been given the gift of resourcefulness and through trying times in my life have always found my way out through," said Holiday, who works as a television actress and singer. "Like many, I have seen difficult times in life both financially and personally, including the death of a parent and experiencing homelessness for a short period. Instead of contemplating the impact of a month's loss, I choose now to take my life day-by-day and practice being centered, resourceful and grateful."
Short-term job loss will be frustrating, Holiday said.
"During this time of mandatory isolation, making your mental well-being a priority along with physical health will be key."
Stow Players’ musical "Life Could Be a Dream," ran one weekend when the theater’s board closed the doors, said producer Pat Robertell-Hudson. The cost to mount a typical musical such as this one is around $5,000, Robertell-Hudson said. "Life Could Be a Dream" was the final show of Stow Players’ season.
"Our musical is usually the biggest grossing show of the season because everyone loves a musical," said Robertell-Hudson, who lives in Silver Lake. "This year we were particularly looking forward to a good run because musical director Dave Stebbins always produces a fantastic show. This musical catered to the over 50 crowd, the cast was young and vibrant, and it didn't require any over the top expenses to make it great. Also we have two reserved houses, approximately seating 170. With our discounted rate this would have brought in approximately $1700."
Stow Players made about $1,460 the first weekend, which had three shows, Robertell-Hudson said. However, because of COVID-19, the two reserved shows cancelled. The royalty company will refund the theater $875 of the $1,400 in fees, and Stow Players received a $100 donation from a former president of the board. But the cost to the theater is still nearly $3,000. This loss may have wiped out the profits made from the previous two shows, she added.
"The cast was disappointed, with one veteran actress and four young college students that will be moving on and may not be available if we could postpone and produce at a different time," she said. Closing the show was disappointing for the cast, crew and producers, but she said there were "also happy memories for all of us for this experience."
Ballet Excel Ohio, which was scheduled to perform "The Snow Queen" and "I Heart Shapes" March 14 and 15 at the Akron Civic Theatre, has rescheduled to May 30 and 31 at 2 p.m. There will be no evening performance.
Mia Klinger, artistic director, said the company will lose money.
"There are unrecoverable costs involved in rehearsing at the theatre. Rentals and union workers still need to get paid. When our performance was postponed, we had to issue ticket refunds upon request. We are asking patrons who have tickets and cannot attend our rescheduled dates of May 30 and 31 to consider using the value of the ticket as a tax-deductible donation. If you are a supporter, consider making an additional donation to help mitigate losses during this difficult time."
Sean Joyce, president and executive director of Stan Hywet Hall and Gardens, said the historic site will postpone its April 1 opening to a date to be determined. Joyce said that staff is encouraged to work from home if possible.
"We are trying to remain flexible," Joyce said. "We do host a number of events throughout the year, and we have events scheduled in the next 30 days that have already been postponed. Easter Hunt and breakfast [are] just outside the window."
The staff at Stan Hywet has "been working to get additional sanitizing stations around the facilities and house and tour route, but that's been a challenge with the shortages."
Danielle Dieterich, the executive director of the Cuyahoga Valley Art Center in Cuyahoga Falls, said that classes, workshops and exhibits were all suspended starting March 13 for the next 30 days. It costs a little under $1,000 to display an exhibit, including overhead and administrative costs. A month’s losses, after refunds, staffing and normal overhead costs, is more than $6,000.
"We are sad to isolate our community," Dietrich said. "Our Board of Directors has agreed to continue to pay our staff on a week-to-week basis. We hope to be able to cover the entire 30-days but we are unsure if that will be possible."
Cuyahoga Falls artist Amy Mothersbaugh said the restrictions put in place has led to uncertainty with many projects she had been in the process of working on.
"I was paired with an author to illustrate a children’s book about the Deep Sea," said Mothersbaugh, who used to own Studio 2091. "It’s to raise awareness and educate children and adults. Worked on it almost a year, and it is being submitted by the agent to the editors. The timing with a world pandemic being announced is lousy. I’m sure though [the book is] incredibly beautiful, it is minor in the scheme of things on their minds. I closed my gallery and focused all work efforts for this moment."
Mothersbaugh said she’s been to the zoo for two mural jobs, but "I’m not sure if those will happen." She has done mural work for the zoo in the past.
Ted Shure, the director of the Cuyahoga Falls Community Chorus, said the chorus has suspended its rehearsals but for now, he wasn’t concerned about being ready for concerts, which are scheduled to start in May.
"Because we are an ensemble the members sit in very close proximity to each other so it only makes sense to suspend our weekly gatherings," Shure said. "The Chorus began rehearsals in Mid-January so we are well on our way to concert preparedness. And, fortunately, our concerts aren’t until May. This certainly gives us time to decide if it is practical to proceed. I hope and pray that these significant decisions made by Gov. [Mike] DeWine and Dr. [Amy] Acton work to lessen the severity of exposure to the virus and save many lives. I am both grateful and supportive."
Linda Bussey, the director of Hower House Museum at The University of Akron, said that the "losses for a month of canceled or postponed rentals, public events, and tours can add up quickly."
"We have had to reschedule a couple of rentals, so that is a few hundred dollars per event," Bussey said. "We have temporarily suspended public tours and gatherings, so loss of tour traffic and related post-tour revenue in the Cellar Door Store will be impacted."
Hower House was forced to postpone one of its annual Guild members' events that is typically the kick-off for the museum’s post-holiday grand reopening, Bussey said.
"Hower House Museum at least is allowing the student assistants to continue to work, just so they can get paid; likewise, our intern has the opportunity to continue his research project," she added.
Pat Stupi of Tallmadge, who has acted and directed in shows at Dynamics Community Theatre, said that having to cancel a show would mean losing a quarter of the theater’s revenue. The theater’s timing with its most recent show, "The Odd Couple: Female Version," was luckier than many: this show was staged March 6 and 7, the weekend before the state mandates about large groups was enacted.
"Postponement would be difficult because of scheduling of venue or ability to ensure all actors and crew would be available at new scheduled time," Stupi said. "Also, the rights for a show are set for dates of performance and would need to be rescheduled. I received a notice from Music Theater International that they are working with all groups to reschedule but I do not know about the rest of the companies."
However, the pandemic could still impact the theater’s summer musical, Stupi said, "Annie," which is scheduled for auditions in May. In addition, the theater uses Tallmadge High School for both rehearsals and the performances.
A musical can cost as much as $10,000 to $15,000 dollars, Stupi said. Plays can cost anywhere from $1,500 to $3,500.
Edward Hoegler, who co-owns Mavis Winkles in Twinsburg with his wife Tammy, said he was concerned about the mandate against larger groups and the order for shutting down restaurants for all but pick up and delivery happened right before St. Patrick’s Day, the biggest day of the year for the Irish pub.
"When this hit, we were fully loaded with food product in preparation for this," Hoegler said. "We got the notice Sunday that we could not have restaurant open. We were having to re-engineer our business approach within 24 hours of our busiest day of the year."
So the staff met and worked out a way to do pick-up service. The end result was around 700 cars coming by, drive through style, to pick up meals.
"We had 2,000 pounds of corned beef ready to go, and we pretty much sold out," Hoegler said. "We had to go to Paninis to get French fries, we had to buy extra food. We did not want to disappoint our customers. They really showed up in droves. At one point had 30 cars in line. People were patient with the wait."
Hoegler added that the switch to carry out is tough for restaurants who do the majority of their business dine in. Before the state-mandated shutdown, Mavis Winkles did less than 10 percent carryout business. He added that on Tuesday, the restaurant had closed temporarily, but he has tentative plans to open Wednesday.
Reporter April Helms can be reached at 330-541-9423, firstname.lastname@example.org, or @AprilKHelms_RPC