Fredericton Playhouse reopens with small performance schedule

The Fredericton Playhouse is preparing to welcome the public back for a small selection of shows after COVID-19 restrictions brought its spring season to an unexpected end.

Executive director Tim Yerxa said the theatre has tickets on sale for eight scheduled performances. That’s down from 40 to 50 performances in a typical fall.

“It’s been quite emotional hearing people talking about how much they miss gathering together and having those magical experiences of experiencing live performance,” he said.

The Playhouse did three concerts over the past two weeks, by invitation only, as “test shows” to practise operational changes under COVID-19.

Yerxa said it appears the public is confident in returning. Ticket sales for concerts coming up have been strong so far.

“We feel good about what we have lined up for the fall, but it is a fraction of what we would normally see happening in the Playhouse,” he said.

The Playhouse in downtown Fredericton has already put on a few shows this fall before invitation-only audiences. (mynewbrunswick.ca)

Staff spent the spring and summer months doing maintenance work at the performing arts centre and planning programming for the fall. 

The venue is also working on a new initiative titled “Intermission,” where local artists come into the Playhouse to work on projects. More than 70 local artists will be participating and videos of their work will be shared on social media.

Yerxa said going for months on end without shows has been difficult. 

The performing arts sector was one of the first to be shut down under COVID-19 restrictions.

“When you’re just not allowed to do what you sort of come to work everyday in pursuit of — it’s a real shock,” he said.

What to expect 

The Playhouse experience won’t be the same while COVID-19 public health guidelines remain in effect.

Patrons can expect a reduced audience size to allow for physical distancing.

The Playhouse will not be operating its bar and concession services. Shows will also be shorter to avoid intermissions and gathering in the lobby area.

Yerxa said parties can be seated one metre apart while seated in the venue, under guidelines from Public Health. But masks will be required at all times inside the Playhouse, including during performances.

“That allows us to get more people into the theatre so we can do more shows.”

Those changes reduce capacity from 709 to 249 people.

Performers will be wearing masks in the venue and backstage areas, but they’ll be able to remove them while onstage.

Tickets are not available online because of seating within “pods” or social bubble groups. Those interested need to call the Playhouse or visit the ticket office in-person to reserve.

Coming up

In the lineup for the rest of 2020:

  • Summer Roses, Symphony New Brunswick / Camerata N.B., Oct. 3.
  • Saltwater Songs, Catherine MacLellan, Rachel Beck and Tim Chaisson, on Oct. 24.
  • Autumn Leaves, Symphony New Brunswick / Camerata N.B., Nov. 21.
  • Christmas Concert, Fredericton Symphony Orchestra, Dec. 5.
  • A Down Home Christmas with Tomato/Tomato, Dec. 11.
  • Christmas with the King, an Elvis tribute with Thane Dunn, Dec. 13.
  • Winter Delights, Symphony New Brunswick / Camerata N.B., Dec. 19.

Performers coming to the Playhouse in early 2021 include musician Alan Doyle and comedian James Mullinger.

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