DULUTH — The Duluth Playhouse has scrapped three shows from its 2021-22 season and postponed another in response to the recent surge in COVID-19 cases, the community theater announced Monday.
It's the only local performing-arts organization to cancel a performance so far in 2022, and it was a decision its leadership made based on cues from Broadway, Minneapolis companies and other regional theaters.
"It's logistically impossible to produce theater right now," said Wes Drummond, the Playhouse's executive director.
"Clue," a murder mystery based on the 1985 movie that was based on the board game, was originally scheduled to open Jan. 27 at the NorShor Theatre. It's been shifted to the season finale, with opening night scheduled for Aug. 12. Performances of "The Spongebob Musical," "The Revolutionists" and "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time" — one that was planned for the Family Theatre stage, two that were set to open at the company's experimental venue, The Underground — have been canceled.
The Duluth Playhouse opened its season with "Spamalot" without any hiccups and staged "Annie" in December. The latter was a feat, according to Drummond.
"Basically 'Annie' is a miracle of a show that we got through a five-week run without canceling it," he said.
The Duluth Superior Symphony Orchestra has continued to perform monthly through most of the pandemic, including a concert this past weekend at the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center's Symphony Hall. Last year, masks were required for concerts. As of November 2021, the organization has also required proof of vaccination or a negative result from a COVID-19 test, according to executive director Brandon VanWaeyenberghe.
The Minnesota Ballet's much-delayed take on "A Midsummer Night's Dream" is scheduled to open Feb. 18 — and that's still the plan for now, according to executive director Kelli Latuska. The arts organization was able to stage "The Nutcracker" this past December, using precautions that included mask requirements for audience members, non-company dancers and performers who were not on stage.
They also raised musicians out of the confines of the orchestra pit, according to Latuska.
Duluth Playhouse officials are focused on mid-March, when the theater is scheduled to open "Ragtime."
"We're optimistic," said Drummond. "Obviously we're not going to put anyone in danger to put on a play."