Lamb’s Players Theatre has been closed since March, mid run of the musical Alice. When the show’s run was cut short, the cast got creative. While sheltering in place at home, the cast of Lamb’s Players Theatre production of the musical ALICE put together this coronavirus adaptation of “The Telephone Hour” from BYE BYE BIRDIE.
Now, after five months of closure, Lamb’s is reevaluating a reopening plan. On August 28th, Governor Newsom laid out reopening plans that included theater. At the time of this publication, San Diego is listed in the “Substantial” Risk Category. This indicates that movie theaters can open with a max of 25% capacity, however, live theater does NOT fall under this category.
Robert Smyth, Producing Artistic Director, of Lamb’s educates that instead of falling under the same category as movie theaters, “we are in the same category as fan attended sports and indoor concerts.” He adds, “Lamb’s is purposefully built as a very intimate, stacked amphitheater, so the audience is close to the actors. We can’t socially distance, and having 40-50 patrons is not fiscally viable.”
This is in line with what other live theaters are experiencing. Robert shares, “We are a ways away from opening; Broadway is not opening until 2021. However, we are not cancelling any of our shows- just postponing them.” Robert says unless there is a miracle and a vaccine for the virus, he doesn’t see things changing for the theater industry anytime soon.
Along with the state, Lamb’s has to work with the hurdle of the actors’ labor union as well. Actors’ Equity Association has not given approval for actors to share the stage together. Another piece to consider is the audience themselves. Robert reports that from those surveyed, most people are not comfortable sitting inside a theater with others.
Until Lamb’s can safely reopen, they are working with a skeletal staff. Robert informs, “we have let go of the cafe and our offices. We are staying busy by working on repairs and maintenance.” He also shares some of the creative projects they have been working on. “50 of our Associate Artists are working on eight world premier productions to be released over a number of years. We also have a Lamb’s cookbook coming out in September- theater people enjoy good food!”
Something else to look forward to is an album titled “Songs of Hope,” and handbags that the costume department has made from the 25th anniversary banners that hung on Orange Avenue last year. To support Lamb’s now, t-shirts are available for purchase that read “I miss Live Theater.” The best way to aid Lamb’s is by donation. Robert is optimistic when he says, “as a non profit theater, we can survive if we get the right donations. The tax deduction has increased with the CAREs act as well.”
Like many businesses in Coronado, Lamb’s is not a stand alone business. Robert says, “we want to get open again. 86% of our patrons go out to eat in Coronado before or after the show. This is an economic engine for the community. We will get through this.”