The show must go on: Nova Scotian theatres prepare to welcome back audiences
GLACE BAY, N.S. -- With gathering restrictions easing next week in Nova Scotia, some entertainment venues in the province are preparing to reopen to visitors for the first time in nearly two years.
The Savoy Theatre in Glace Bay has been sitting empty for nearly two years now.
The pandemic has put performances in front of live audience on pause, but that will soon change.
“March 6th, 2020 was our last show, which was the Irish Rovers. I can’t even believe it’s been this long,” says Pam Leader, the Executive Director of the Savoy Theatre.
Entertainment venues across Nova Scotia will have the green light to remove limiting restrictions, when the province enters Phase 5 on Sept. 15.
“When you’re able to seat almost 800 people with a limit of 150, it’s financially impossible to produce any kind of show that will work in a large venue like this,” says Leader.
The Savoy will hold a show in October called ‘Dear Rita’, a tribute to Cape Breton’s own Rita MacNeil.
In Halifax, Neptune Theatre will hold their first show since the beginning of COVID-19 on Tuesday.
It’s a day that’s been a long time coming for Artistic Director Jeremy Webb.
“After 18 months it's very exciting. I'm not going to lie, it’s a little nerve racking as well. We went into rehearsals for the play just over three weeks ago,” says Webb.
Webb says the focus will be on making people feel comfortable and safe as they return to an indoor environment.
Tickets will be limited to first come, first serve, and they’ve launched a survey of patrons to find out what they are comfortable with.
“Our business is dependent on groups of strangers coming together and sitting together in a very well ventilated and very clean, but none the less close space. So we want to see how that works and ease people in,” says Webb.
It’s also been a long wait for Maritime performers.
Jenn Sheppard will be the first to hit the Savoy stage on Sept. 29 with her CD release concert.
“There's a certain magic that you get that you cannot recapture. When you're there at a live show and you get to feel the rhythm of the songs as they're happening. It's difficult to try and translate that too an online show,” says Sheppard.
With gathering limits lifted, the focus for Leader and other theatres will be making audience’s feel safe returning to a closed-indoor environment.
“We will obviously be sticking to the double-vaxxed, which we were going to stick to anyway before the province announced it and we’re probably going to keep masks mandatory for the first little while,” says Leader.
A milestone that venues have been waiting for since the pandemic began.