For regular theatre-goers, a spooky Halloween play and a holiday staging of A Christmas Carol may be annual traditions and this year, despite the pandemic, a Vancouver Island theatre company is making sure audiences can still see their seasonal favourites in person.
Blue Bridge Repertory Theatre, based in Victoria, B.C., suspended all productions on March 16 due to the virus. The company, which performs at the city's historic Roxy Theatre, is now welcoming people back to the theatre beginning this month.
Upcoming performances include a series of Sunday afternoon musical performances starting Oct. 18, a re-creation of great historical debates beginning Oct. 22, select readings of an adaptation of Bram Stokers' Dracula from Oct. 29 to 31, and a one-man version of the classic Dickens' Christmas production opening Dec. 1.
"We have to be innovative ... but at the same time we have to take our responsibility as a public venue very seriously," said artistic director Brian Richmond in an interview on CBC's On The Island.
He said the company relies on donations and ticket sale revenue to stay afloat and Blue Bridge needed to do something to survive.
To keep patrons and performers safe, the theatre capacity will be restricted to 50 people at a time, all practising physical distancing and following public health guidelines.
All audience members must wear masks and will be screened for the virus with a series of questions before being seated. There will be no intermission and all programming is under 90 minutes
Anyone who is hesitant about attending in person, can purchase tickets and watch the performances online.
Richmond said the pandemic has been "devastating" for the 12-year-old company that has drawn more than 100,000 audience members to its events and shows over the years.
He said Blue Bridge is tentatively planning to return to business as usual in the spring of 2021.
"We are waiting, like everybody else, to see how this terrible catastrophe unfolds," said Richmond.
To hear the complete interview with Brian Richmond on CBC's On The Island, tap the play button below: