Asolo Repertory Theatre has announced the suspension of all public performances and related events for the reminder of the 2019-20 season, due to growing global concern around the COVID-19 pandemic.
The theater had previously announced the early closings of two shows, Into the Breeches! and The Lifespan of a Fact, as well as the cancellation of the production of The Great Leap. Now, joining the list of canceled shows is the world premiere of Knoxville, along with Hood and Snow White. Originally, the season was set to run through June 28.
“The safety and well-being of our audience, artists and staff will always be of the highest importance to us,” said producing artistic director Michael Donald Edwards in Asolo Rep’s press release. “It is absolutely heartbreaking that the companies of these shows, which have done some of the most remarkable work I have seen in my 14 years in this position, will not have the opportunity to perform this season on our stage.”
Many audience members had been particularly looking forward to the world premiere of Knoxville, a musical adaptation of the James Agee book A Death in the Family that was being created by writer-director Frank Galati, composer Stephen Flaherty and lyricist Lynn Ahrens. (You will be reading about that show in our April print issue, which went to press well before today’s announcement.) In addition, both Hood, a musical retelling of the classic Robin Hood tale, and Snow White, a family-friendly production set for June, would have been first-time productions on the Asolo Rep stage.
The theater is urging current ticket holders to convert their ticket purchase into a full tax-deductible donation. Patron support will help offset some of the lost revenue incurred from having to cancel nearly one-third of the company’s season.
Patrons also have the opportunity to apply the cost of their tickets toward single tickets or a subscription package for the 2020-21 season, set to open this fall. Patrons may contact the box office via email at [email protected]; in addition, those wishing to donate should visit asolorep.org for more information.
The Sarasota Ballet had already announced the cancellation of the remainder of its season two days ago, including performances of Sir Frederick Ashton’s Romeo & Juliet. The ballet, too, is asking patrons and donors to donate their tickets and to make a gift to The Sarasota Ballet Emergency Fund, as the company intends to keep paying its dancers and to support those from cities and countries that have already implemented quarantines or border closures. To donate tickets, contact the box office at 359-0099; to make a gift to the emergency fund, contact Sara Robinson, director of development, at 225-6504 or Lauren Stroman, development officer, at 225-6510.
While it seems likely that other artistic organizations will follow suit, at the moment Florida Studio Theatre has canceled the rest of its winter 2020 season, but is still hoping to reopen with the summer mainstage season in June. Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe has closed its production of Your Arms Too Short to Box with God; word is still to come concerning its world premiere musical Ruby, set to open later in April, and beyond.
Urbanite Theatre's production schedule likewise is on hold.
The Sarasota Opera has cancelled the rest of its winter season. The Sarasota Orchestra had announced last Friday it was canceling performances through March 24, with the intent to continue its concert schedule in April, May and June, but that situation is obviously fluid.
The city-owned Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall has suspended performances through March 31 and is busy rescheduling a number of the performances left in the season.