"The Music Man" has lost his baton a week early.
Chanhassen Dinner Theatres has canceled the final eight performances of the Meredith Willson musical because of COVID-19. The show was scheduled to close Sunday.
"When the lead goes out and the understudy goes out and the understudy for the understudy goes out, then the buck stops and the whole show crumbles," said Kris Howland, spokesperson for Chanhassen. "It's a cascading effect and it's pretty stressful. At a certain point, we decided we can't do this anymore to our people."
The theater had strictly adhered to health guidelines and safety protocols, including testing actors daily.
"The decision was made for us — when you can't do it, you can't do it," Howland said.
COVID also has affected Chanhassen's next production, "Footloose," pushing previews back by a week and forcing the cancellation of its regular press night. The show now begins previews Feb. 4 and opens Feb. 11.
As artistic director Michael Brindisi said, "there's no throwing in the towel — keep slugging away," Howland said. "We push on."
Despite the abrupt closure, Chanhassen has had the rare theater success story in the COVID era. "Music Man" first opened in March 2020 and closed after nine performances just as the pandemic was shutting things down.
The show, however, reopened last July. It had 215 performances and was attended by 90,000 patrons, according to Howland.
The St. Paul Chamber Orchestra wasn't so fortunate. On Wednesday, the group canceled its weekend concerts for the second time in three weeks.
SPCO blamed positive COVID-19 tests and confirmed exposures among musicians, staff and stage crew for its decision to call off performances slated for 11 a.m. Friday and 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday at Ordway Concert Hall; Saturday evening's concert was to have been livestreamed, as well.
The centerpiece of the program, a new work by St. Paul singer/composer PaviElle French, will premiere at a later date. Ticket holders may exchange tickets for another concert, or bank them for future use.
Freelance critic Rob Hubbard contributed to this report.