from our friends at Arizona Broadway Theatre:Arizona Broadway Theatre shuttered its doors nearly 5 months ago as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Following CDC recommendations and Arizona Governor Doug Ducey's Executive Order restricting large gatherings within the state of Arizona, the curtain came down on the company’s new production of Chicago a mere two days after opening, resulting in hundreds of employee layoffs and the indefinite postponement of all theatre and educational programming.
Since then, ABT’s Executive Leadership Team has been working diligently to determine a path forward that will give audiences some idea of when the theatre can reopen safely. "Based on recent national industry projections including Broadway and the Actor’s Union, all prudent indicators point to a January 2021 reopening,” said Kiel Klaphake, Executive Producer/CEO at ABT. "But most importantly, we are committed to reopening with protocols and procedures in place that address the health and safety of our patrons, employees, and volunteers.”
Chicago will be the first full production to return to the ABT stage. “Everything is ready. The set is still there, the costumes are hanging on the racks and the talent is standing by…we can’t wait to breathe life back into this long awaited show.” said Cassandra Klaphake, Artistic Producer at ABT. Along with the return of Mainstage musical theatre productions, plans for additional Fall interim programming are in development.
These programs include outdoor performance opportunities for family and senior audiences as well as tentative plans for larger outdoor productions to be staged in the West Valley. “People need entertainment, they need the arts, they need something to look forward to,” said Cassandra Klaphake. “Since it is not safe yet to gather indoors, we are working hard to find creative ways to bring ABT out of the theatre.” Future announcements regarding these programs as well as a 2021 show schedule will be forthcoming on the theatre's website and social media platforms in the weeks to follow.
“Although the thought of reopening is tremendously exciting, we have a long road ahead of us to get to January, as the costs to maintain our facility are substantial,” said Kiel Klaphake. ABT’s ticket sales account for 90 percent of their operational budget, and with no revenue coming in since March, the financial stress is significant. In recent weeks, ABT leadership and City of Peoria staff have had numerous conversations regarding the potential devastation that a continued shutdown will have on the cherished Peoria non-profit theatre company and event destination. ABT is optimistic about the City’s willingness to uphold their commitment to local arts by playing a pivotal role to mitigate the catastrophic economic impact of COVID-19 on the Peoria small business. “The arts add to the exceptional quality of life that we know and love in Peoria, support our mental and general well being, and highlight the unique characteristics of our residents and our community,” said Mayor Cathy Carlat back in June of this year. “Our city is not complete without a strong representation of the arts."
Prior to the postponement, Arizona Broadway Theatre was the largest producer of musical theatre in the state with robust educational programs and additional entertainment offerings. “I want our community to know this is only an intermission. We will survive," said Kiel Klaphake. "The overwhelming support of our patrons, friends and fans - both locally and from across the country - has been incredible. As one longtime patron recently said to me...'we were with you in 2005 when you had to open the first show in a tent and we're going to be with you now...be it in a tent, in a parking lot, or wherever you can make the magic happen. The virus is not your fault. We will do what it takes...for however long it takes...because we love you.' I cannot thank our community enough for sticking with us. The show will go on!"