The Chemainus Theatre will sit idle for the rest of 2020, a big blow for the tourist-based economy of Chemainus. (Photo by Don Bodger)

Remainder of 2020 season cancelled at popular Island theatre

Chemainus Theatre Festival succumbs to COVID-19 restrictions on large crowds likely to linger longer

The news is devastating for Chemainus’ tourism-based economy. The Chemainus Theatre will remain dark for the rest of 2020 due to COVID-19.

The Chemainus Theatre Festival made the difficult decision public late Wednesday night to pull the plug on the remainder of this year’s performance schedule.

The trickle-down effect from those employed at the theatre to performers who will miss paycheques is enormous, not to mention the great joy performances bring to thousands of theatre-goers each year.

A joint statement from managing director Randy Huber and artistic director Mark DuMez indicated the Chemainus Theatre Festival has been working hard to assess the best possible plan to move forward through 2020 and beyond.

”We have been following the mandates of government officials, public health authorities, and medical professionals to address the health, safety, and well-being of our patrons, staff, volunteers, and artists,” the statement read. “With social distancing measures in place and the uncertainty of when the ban on larger public gatherings will be lifted, it is more evident than ever that we must remain closed for the unforeseen future. Because of this, we have made the difficult decision to cancel the remainder of our 2020 season.

“We are so thankful to have a loyal and courageous community who care for the Chemainus Theatre Festival. This is one of the most challenging and heartbreaking decisions we have ever had to make. We acknowledge the impact it will have on our Chemainus Theatre community. We feel the loss of the 2020 season and all that it touches. We are a theatre of celebration and hope. While we hope for the best, we recognize that planning for the long-term life of the theatre society requires other measures.”

Related: Chemainus Theatre temporarily suspends operations, postpones next two shows

An exciting season of six shows began with the Marvelous Wonderettes that was staged for four of six scheduled weeks before COVID-19 restrictions came into effect. The 39 Steps was scheduled to run April 9-May 3, Beauty and The Beast from May 29-Aug. 29, Glory from Sept. 11-Oct. 3, Joyful Noise from Oct. 16-Nov. 7 and the Christmas production of Elf: The Musical from Nov. 20-Dec. 31.

COVID-19 has caused the cancellation of live professional theatres and mass gatherings across Canada. Provincial and federal government officials and public health authorities have begun to look at plans to lessen restrictions, but it’s become apparent the theatre industry is far down the list for reopenings.

The Chemainus Theatre Festival has been performing live theatre on Vancouver Island for 28 seasons. It has emerged from drawbacks caused by epic snowstorms, windstorms, and economic downturns, but this appears to be its biggest challenge yet.

“These are unsettling times,” conceded Huber and DuMez in the statement. “The Chemainus Theatre Crisis Relief Fund has been established to help us withstand this difficult time and return in 2021 when it is safe to do so. Today more than ever, we will rely on charitable support. If you are able to help, any donation will be an integral part of helping us build towards our next season.

“We look forward to seeing you next season when we can all share our creative energy, artistry, determination, and heart.”

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Managing director Randy Huber and son and artistic director Mark DuMez at opposite ends of the Chemainus Theatre show lineup for 2020. Only the Marvelous Wonderettes happened and that fell two weeks short of a full run. (Photo by Don Bodger)

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