Four days before opening its production of "A Raisin in the Sun," the Guthrie Theater has postponed the Lorraine Hansberry classic that was to be its first show of the new year.
The theater also announced Monday that it has canceled its pre-Broadway run of Karen Zacarías' "Destiny of Desire," which was to be staged by Tony-winner Ruben Santiago-Hudson April 30-June 4 before moving on to New York.
Both decisions are in response to COVID-19, the Guthrie said. There were breakthrough COVID cases in the cast of "Raisin" and multiple artists associated with "Destiny" had conflicts because of COVID-related delays.
"The ongoing effects of the pandemic in our industry cannot be overstated," Guthrie artistic director Joseph Haj said in a statement. "Given that health experts predict the COVID-19 surge may not peak in Minnesota until mid-to-late January, we felt it prudent to reconsider our calendar."
Veteran actor Tonia Jackson, who plays matriarch Lena Younger in "Raisin," understands the need for the postponement for which the dates are yet to be determined. She has worked onstage and acted in TV shows during the pandemic and values Guthrie's decision in keeping the artists, staff and patrons safe. Even so, she said the news was "devastating" to her and others in the cast.
"It's very surreal what's happening in the industry all over the country," she said. "We had created a beautiful, tight piece of work that was going to be a gift to this community. I'm still in shock."
The Guthrie hopes that it can bring "Raisin" back in the spring, perhaps in the slot where "Destiny of Desire" was slated to be held. Its box office is contacting those who have tickets for the shows.
The theater will continue to hold some of its scheduled shows, including former artistic director Joe Dowling's production of "The Tempest" (Feb. 26-April 16); Kate Hamill's new adaptation of Jane Austen's "Emma," directed by Meredith McDonough (June 18-Aug. 21); and Lynn Nottage's Pulitzer Prize-winning drama, "Sweat," directed by Tamilla Woodard (July 16–Aug. 21).
The omicron surge has also canceled two play readings at the History Theatre. Both "Diesel Heart," slated for Thursday, and "The Betty Crocker Musical," scheduled for Sunday, have been canceled. Ticket holders will be contacted by the theater's box office. Next up for the St. Paul venue is "Not for Sale," a drama about housing discrimination that begins performance Feb. 5.
Staff writer Chris Hewitt contributed to this report.