By Rachel Holt

BOSTON (CBS) – Joe Spaulding is the President and CEO of the Boch Center. Like many in the theater business, he’s trying to prepare for the unknown.

“We put $80 million into the local economy, you don’t want that to go away. You need the arts in our society,” Spaulding said.

“We have no idea when Phase 4 is going to come. In fact I would say we’re in Phase 5. We’re going to need a vaccine and we’re going to hope that people will take that vaccine and they’ll want to come back, but we don’t know that.”

The doors of the Shubert Theater and Wang Theater have been closed since March 12, with no plans to reopen them any time soon.

According to Spaulding, “we’re going to be out $40 million over this period of time and we don’t think we may open until September of 2021. That’s a long time from now.”

Spaulding is one of many hoping Congress passes bills in front of them that will help local clubs and theaters survive. Spaulding shared, “We’re out trying to convince our federal government that we need to save our stages for our independent venues and if we don’t get some federal funding–which as you know right know we’re in a stalemate– 90% of my brothers and sisters will go out of business.”

For the Berkshire Theatre Group, the show must go on– with lots of changes in place. Since August 7, a month long production of the musical Godspell is underway from a tent in the parking lot. Jason Weixelman, production stage manager, details some of the safety protocols in place. “The actors when they’re on stage, they are required to be six feet apart when they’re speaking,” Weixelman said. “Ten feet apart when they’re singing.”

There are also partitions in place on the stage. As for the audience, temperature checks are administered upon arrival and masks are required. The cast is quarantining together and according to Weixelman, tested for COVID-19 three times a week.

The Berkshire Theatre Group is hoping to serve as an example for other theater companies across the U.S.

Weixelman said, “so many of our friends and colleagues are out of work right now so we know the responsibility we’re taking to ensure we can bring live theater back safely and get audiences back with us to share this connection together.”

Boch Center is offering people the opportunity to name a seat in the Wang Theatre by making a donation.

For more information on Berkshire Theatre Group’s production of Godspell, visit: www.berkshiretheatregroup.org

Rachel Holt

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