RACINE — Late last fall, the Racine Theatre Guild canceled the remainder of its rescheduled 2020-21 season, with the exception of “Mamma Mia!” which was to be performed in May.
Due to the continued impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Board of Directors announced Wednesday afternoon it has voted to cancel the highly anticipated musical as well.
Originally rescheduled to perform from May 14 through June 6, “Mamma Mia!” ticket holders will have the option to receive a refund for their tickets or donate the cost back to RTG.
“It has been almost a year since our initial shutdown and as the months continue to pass, there is still hope that we may be able to stage a production at our theater soon,” Douglas Instenes, managing and artistic director, said in a news release. “As we have tried to navigate the path to reopening, we have come to realize that a full musical with rehearsals beginning in March and welcoming an audience this May is not possible.”
RTG initially halted all programming, events and productions in March 2020, and is following city, state and industry guidelines and regulations as the theater has had to continually readjust its timeline to reopen. Current city ordinances would allow RTG to open at a 50% capacity house with social distanced seating, but all performers would be required to be masked on stage.
“To maintain socially distanced seating, our 400-seat theater would only be able to have approximately 39% capacity,” Instenes said. “In addition, masked performers would take away the ability to perform, muffling sound and hiding facial expressions that are key to acting and singing. Plus, the logistics of keeping a cast and crew safe and healthy throughout multiple rehearsals and performances would be a challenging task.”
The Guild still hopes to produce smaller-scale programming this summer to begin welcoming patrons and volunteers back. RTG has received generous donations from the community, along with a PPP Loan, CARES Act support, and two State of Wisconsin “We’re All In” grants. However, those funds apply to revenue lost in 2020 with many unknowns regarding potential funding for this year.
“As a nonprofit community theater, we rely on the steady stream of income from performances to cover 70% of our operating costs,” Instenes said. “We hope to be able to open our 84th season of plays and musicals later this year and will be continue to monitor the pandemic as we lay the framework for those shows.”
“RTG has been through difficult times before and been able to come out on the other side thanks to the support of our volunteers, audiences, and community,” Instenes said. “We are extremely grateful to have their support and cannot wait to welcome everyone back when the time comes.”
Ticketing, donation and other information can be found at racinetheatre.org or by calling 262-633-4218.