The Aurora Community Theatre has had to cancel the final two shows of its season, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Christine Patronik-Holder, business and marketing manager for the theater.
"That’s been a real challenge for the theater," she said. "We’re a small non-profit, and there’s not a lot of extra money for a small, non-profit theater."
Both the musical "Hair" — which was supposed to open last week — and "Catch Me If You Can" were canceled, which put a strain on ACT’s finances, but many patrons understood the troupe’s dilemma, said Patronik-Holder.
"The majority of our patrons were very understanding," she said. "Fully a third of them donated their tickets back to the theater as a gift. It was a financial struggle. We were just so delighted to have so much support from the [ticket holders], who were able to make donations and take gift certificates."
The last show ACT staged was "Boeing," which had its run in February prior to the COVID-19 outbreak. At this point, next season’s shows have not been selected.
ACT also is doing a fundraiser, which gives thespians a chance to perform and theater fans a chance to see some of their favorite cast members, said Patronik-Holder. "Sing in the Summer" invites singers of all ages to submit video performances, and fans can vote on their favorite performances.
"We’ll charge a modest fee for people to be able to download it and view it online," she said.
The competition includes four rounds, "Broadway Favorites," "Sondheim or Golden Age," "Andrew Lloyd Weber or Rock Operas" and "ACT Favorites," in which contestants must choose songs from the following shows: "West Side Story," "Les Misérables," "Hamilton," "My Fair Lady," "Wicked" and "Grease."
In no particular order, the top five Round 1 performers were Kylie Moore, Jordan Gadoury, Grace Tomasko, Brittany Smile and David Rusnak.
"These are regular performers you see on our stage often," said Patronik-Holder. "It’s a real fun group of people. We’re trying to raise money; it’s $5 per vote, and you can vote for as many people as you want."
The theater also is conducting its annual ACT Children’s Summer Workshop, according to Patronik-Holder.
"We’re going to be holding our Children’s Summer Workshop, but it will not conclude in a full-scale production," she said, adding spaces are still available for the July 20 to Aug. 1 session. The Aug. 3-15 workshop is full.
There’s room for 45 children per session, she said. For sake of social distancing, she said ACT can break the groups up into five groups with nine children each.
Library, historical society remain closed
Two other organizations sharing the building with ACT — The Aurora Historical Society and Aurora Branch of the Portage County District Library — remain closed, according to their respective directors.
Jon Harris, executive director of the Portage County District Library system, said the library is offering "contactless pickup" from the Aurora branch, as well as all its other locations.
"We do hope to have our doors reopened to the public in some capacity in the near future," he said. "We’re looking at sometime in mid-July. Hopefully, we’ll be able to make it, but we don’t have a solid date."
Aurora Historical Society Director John Kudley said the Aurora Historical Society will likely remain closed for some time because it’s difficult to disinfect the areas with displays.
"The requirements for what we have to do to cleanse the areas with open displays are pretty demanding, and our resources are limited to be able to get all the things we really need," he said.
Kudley said he’s appreciated being able to share Aurora’s history in columns submitted to the Aurora Advocate and other publications, as well as the organization’s Facebook page.
"We’ve been very pleased to provide the community something to read about Aurora’s history during this crisis," he said.
Reporter Bob Gaetjens can be reached at email@example.com or @bobgaetjens_rc.