Update: COVID leads to second delay of Florida Studio Theatre’s comedy ‘The Play That Goes Wrong’

·3 min read
The cast of Florida Studio Theatre’s production of the comedy “The Play that Goes Wrong.”
The cast of Florida Studio Theatre’s production of the comedy “The Play that Goes Wrong.”

Florida Studio Theatre is postponing the opening of the Broadway and London comedy hit “The Play That Goes Wrong” for a second week due to complications related to COVID.

The play about the mishaps that befall an amateur theater troupe trying to put on the fictional whodunit “The Murder at Haversham Manor” was scheduled to begin performances Jan. 19. Because of an earlier COVID exposure, some cast members had to rehearse with the others online, delaying the production process. Other issues have developed since then, including delays in supplies for the set, leading the theater to start previews begin Feb. 2, with an official opening now set for Feb. 4.

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“It’s ironic that ‘The Play That Goes Wrong’ is the production we have to delay opening, but it seems fitting since this has been the year (or two) that’s ‘gone wrong’ for us all,” Managing Director Rebecca Hopkins said in a statement. “There’s a light at the end of this tunnel, and we’ll get there together. ‘The Play That Goes Wrong’ is all about that – finding our way through the chaos.”

COVID has impacted a number of local arts organizations, and last week FST suspended performances of its world premiere play “America in One Room” because of COVID exposures. The production resumed Tuesday night.

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Earlier in the month, the Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe postponed the opening of its world premiere musical “Ruby.” On Wednesday, the theater announced it was cancelling the production and hopes to reschedule it later in the season. The Sarasota Orchestra was forced to cancel one weekend of Masterworks concerts Jan. 7-9 and then altered the program of last week’s Great Escapes concerts because of COVID exposures. The orchestra shifted to a concert featuring only strings, piano and percussion, musicians who are able to play their instruments while wearing masks.

This week, the orchestra also announced that it was canceling its planned performances at Neel Performing Arts Center on the campus of State College of Florida in Bradenton because of its COVID protocols.

The orchestra said, “As part of the state college system, SCF follows a recommended mask policy but prohibits other users, such as the Orchestra, from mandating face coverings while performing” at Neel. The difference in policies led to the orchestra’s decision to cancel concerts scheduled Feb. 3, Feb. 25 and March.

The orchestra is offering to exchange tickets for other orchestra performances this season, and it is offering Neel patrons free tickets to the April 1 concert led by new music director Bramwell Tovey.

Key Chorale delayed the performance of its concert program “Choral Splendor in 40 parts” until May because of travel concerns involving guest artists, and the Detroit Symphony Orchestra canceled its Florida tour, forcing a delay in the start of the new Sarasota Concert Association season.

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Hopkins said 80,000 people have attended in-person performances at FST since the theater reopened in March, but “the omicron variant has taken a real toll on the company.”

Everyone involved at the theater percent vaccinated and “no one has gotten seriously ill. However, people do get sick. And when that happens, they are out of work for a minimum of five days” though sometimes for seven to 10 days. Those absences put a strain on the staff and the acting companies. “We are each other’s ‘understudies’ from production to marketing to development to the box office.”

For more information about the FST performances: 941-366-9000; floridastudiotheatre.org

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This article originally appeared on Sarasota Herald-Tribune: COVID exposures lead Florida Studio Theatre to second delay of new comedy