COVID returns to theaters

COVID returns to theaters

COVID continues to complicate the lives of performers in the entertainment industry. Producers, staff, artists and viewers have to face a new summer wave that, like the previous ones, is the source of many headaches.

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In Montreal, various dates of the musical Ana, presented at the Théâtre Saint-Denis, had to be postponed due to an outbreak of COVID-19. In Terrebonne, five performances of the play symphorian suffered the same fate. In Quebec, the musical Rock of Ages, playing at the Capitol, was canceled on two consecutive nights, July 14 and 15, due to COVID cases. Fortunately, an understudy who was already with the company was able to play two characters.

“Many practices have changed with the pandemic and continue to change,” explains Sébastien Côté, senior director of management and entertainment for Quebecor Sports and Entertainment. We had a COVID specialist on the tour. Revolution who ensured compliance with the measures on set. With the lifting of the measures, this has come to complicate things. »

Rock of Ages

Photo Archives, QMI Agency

Rock of Ages

The actors and the technical team of Rock of Ages they have also returned to wearing masks, and meet and greets with fans are no longer taking place after the show.

financial losses

“The biggest financial loss is all the unsold tickets,” continues Mr. Côté. A part of the tickets were not sold, because with each new wave, there is a fear of the spectator. »

Also, for the production of the musical Anathe postponement and cancellation of functions represented a headache and a financial loss.

“We had a summer schedule and fixed dates,” explains producer Émilie Rochon. It was a colossal job getting everything back on track and getting everything back on track. As soon as we got back we started to put the sanitary measures: the mask in public, the distance with the spectators, the washing of hands, we updated the instructions. »

At the Gilles-Vigneault Theater in Saint-Jérôme, the Sainte-Marie-de-la-Mauderne play team has yet to deal with COVID cases that would have forced shows to be postponed. This does not stop some concerned viewers from asking, every night, to be reimbursed, even if sanitizing gel and masks are provided at the entrance of the performance hall.

“We continue to face the same challenges as at the beginning of the pandemic, but to this we must add the physical and mental fatigue of the teams present,” explains David Laferrière, general director of the campus and president of the board of directors of the Professional Association of Presenters Shows (RIDEAU). The teams are reduced due to the holidays, this weakens the remaining teams. We are having labor issues due to challenges related to COVID and the depletion of arts-related trades. »

“There are about 15% to 20% of viewers who wear the mask, adds Mr. Laferriere. It is the responsibility of each artist to take the measurements. Some productions hired doubles just in case, something that doesn’t happen to us. Still, we walk on a wire, even if we follow the rules to the letter. »

Since the start of the pandemic, the Gilles-Vigneault Theater has lost $2 million in ticket returns.

Collateral damage

COVID also does collateral damage. Showroom staff, who have to deal with a significant level of aggression from patrons, leave for a variety of reasons: fatigue, significant physical and psychological exhaustion, coronavirus, career reorientation, and often early retirement.

Premiered on July 20 at the Cogeco Amphitheater in Trois-Rivières, the work Long live our Divas! it’s 6me installment of the Cirque du Soleil tribute series. At the moment, no function has been canceled and the Cirque du Soleil representative assures that he is keeping an eye on the evolution of the situation in all the markets that he visits.

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