MANSFIELD -- The Mansfield Playhouse -- in response to rising COVID-19 concerns from patrons, staff and cast members -- has postponed current productions until further notice.
"Though we do not have any direct cases within our current participants, we have several different cast members and patrons coming from several different surrounding areas," said Doug Wertz, artistic director at the playhouse.
He said the theater at 95 E. Third St. theater will halt production until "it's deemed safe for our devoted volunteers and patrons to return."
"This has become a concern for maintaining the ability to control the safety and effectiveness of our recent protective measures to not be a contributing factor to the spread within our community," he said Friday.
The Playhouse made the decision in March to shut down production of their last three shows, just two days before the government ordered theaters to close.
“We saw the writing on the wall and knew it was the right thing to do on our part for the original, assumed 15-day mitigation process," Wertz said.
The Playhouse was preparing to stage, beginning Dec. 4, the holiday classic, "A Christmas Story," which had been in production and rehearsals for more than a month.
Wertz told the cast, family members and crew on Thursday evening the show was postponed indefinitely.
“We ask that you all stay connected with our communication as we want to continue this production with the stellar cast all of you have become,” Wertz told the group. “Even if we have to have Christmas in July!”
The Playhouse plans to reopen the theater with the production, Wertz said.
Taking pride in being the second-oldest, highest continually producing community theater in Ohio, The Mansfield Playhouse is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization.
Its mission is to offer quality entertainment at affordable pricing and building community through the experience of live theater.
Seating has already been limited to 30 percent capacity-- only after a variance from the original 15-percent order was filed with local and state health officials -- so the decision to go without further revenue, though difficult, is the most responsible thing to do, Wertz said.
Currently involved as a participant in the Richland Gives through the Richland County Foundation fundraising campaign, tax deductible donations are accepted to assist in covering operating expenses during this time of suspension. Opportunities are available to also receive matching funds with donations.
Ticket holders will have options to either maintain their purchases or will be entitled to full refund by contacting the box office at 419-522-2883 or emailing their request to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wertz advised patrons to watch for further updates at www.mansfieldplayhouse.com and on the Mansfield Playhouse page on Facebook.