The Dallas Theater Center canceled Thursday evening’s performance of A Christmas Carol after a member of the company tested positive for COVID-19. The theater company has also canceled performances for this weekend and next Tuesday.
“We are disappointed to be canceling any A Christmas Carol performances. However, the Actor’s Equity Association and Center for Disease Control guidelines indicate canceling these shows is the best course of action to keep Dallas Theater Center patrons, artists, and staff as safe as possible during this uncertain time,” said Jeff Woodward, Dallas Theater Center’s Managing Director.
The Dallas Theater Center is offering performance credits or refunds to patrons with tickets to the canceled shows. The theater hopes to resume performances Wednesday, Dec. 22.
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All theater staff and artists are required to be vaccinated. In anticipation of A Christmas Carol, the theater announced new safety protocols for audiences in November. Audience members older than 12 must have a negative COVID-19 test or provide proof of vaccination and all audience members are required to wear masks regardless of vaccination status.
“Unlike a traditional theater, music, or sports event where there is a clear separation between the audience and the performers, our production of A Christmas Carol surrounds the audience. This leads to a thrilling experience, but at times actors and audience members can be right next to each other,” Woodward said when the new safety protocols were announced. “Since the actors are unmasked, we felt it was safest for all over 12 years of age to be fully vaccinated. We realize this may be inconvenient for some of our patrons, but the safety of our audience, artists, and staff continues to be a priority of our company.”
The Dallas Theater Center’s announcement comes a month after Dallas Summer Musicals canceled one performance of Hamilton. Since Dec. 11, the Broadway productions of MJ The Musical, Moulin Rouge, Jagged Little Pill, Hamilton, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Tina, Mrs. Doubtfire, Ain’t Too Proud, Freestyle Love Supreme, and Little Shop of Horrors have canceled performances because of COVID-19 outbreaks within the company.
While shows resume performances within days, the growing list of cancellations highlights the theater industry’s complicated return to in-person performances after a lengthy pandemic closure.
Last year, the Dallas Theater Center produced a film adaptation of A Christmas Carol, In the Bleak Midwinter: A Christmas Carol for Our Time. The film featured the Dallas Theater Center’s Diane and Brierley Resident Acting Company working under pandemic safety protocols, including a robust testing regime, masking and social distancing during rehearsals and filming. Patrons watched the film online from the comfort of their homes.
“Faced with the assignment of creating a new version of Dickens’ classic story that could be rehearsed and filmed with strict safety protocols, we began by compiling a list of all the things we could NOT do: no special effects, children, dancing, live music, crowd scenes, ghosts or actors standing within six feet of each other. But from these limitations, we’ve created a brand new, one-time-only contemporary version that remains true to the spirit of Dickens’ masterpiece and allows us to re-examine the story in fresh, surprising ways that will fill our audience with the hope of redemption,” Kevin Moriarty, Dallas Theater Center’s Enloe/Rose Artistic Director, said when the film was released.
This year’s production of A Christmas Carol stars Raphael Parry, Executive and Artistic Director of Shakespeare Dallas, as Ebenezer Scrooge. “The holiday season is a wonderful time to celebrate with our families and friends. I think the timeless story of the redemption of Scrooge combined with the wonderful music and spectacle of live theater creates a magical moment for all involved,” Parry said.
Christie Vela, Associate Artistic Director at Theatre Three and a founding member of the theater’s Diane and Brierley Resident Acting Company, directs the production. “This play never stops being relevant. After everything that happened in 2020, it’s much more relevant. We found out who was really essential. Teachers, workers, people in the warehouses. Not bankers,” Vela said. “This is a battle for Scrooge’s soul. This production illustrates how much our actions mean, how much what we do matters.”
A Christmas Carol runs through Dec. 26.
Learn more: https://www.dallastheatercenter.org/