Yellowknife theatre group sponsors first show since pandemic shutdown

·3 min read
A dress rehearsal for Love & Laughter on the 14th Floor, a musical theatre production written by Shannon Lyman. Pictured are Susan Shantora, Kara Cherland, and Lyman. It's the first show sponsored by Ptarmigan Ptheatrics since the pandemic shut down their production of We Will Rock You in 2020.   (Submitted by Ray Bethke - image credit)
A dress rehearsal for Love & Laughter on the 14th Floor, a musical theatre production written by Shannon Lyman. Pictured are Susan Shantora, Kara Cherland, and Lyman. It's the first show sponsored by Ptarmigan Ptheatrics since the pandemic shut down their production of We Will Rock You in 2020. (Submitted by Ray Bethke - image credit)

In March of 2020, Yellowknife musical theatre group, Ptarmigan Ptheatrics, was six weeks into rehearsals for We Will Rock You, the selected play for its spring show.

The group had spent several months preparing for their annual production, which Ptarmigan's president Ray Bethke said typically costs between $40,000 to $50,000.

Then the pandemic suddenly hit.

"I started to get word on the 16th of March that there were going to be shutdowns and restrictions, and we had to let the cast know we were cancelling the show," said Bethke.

Over two years since the forced shutdown, Ptarmigan is still trying to recuperate.

It's sponsoring a small-scale musical theatre production, called Love & Laughter on the 14th Floor, an original show created by Shannon Lyman, the vice-president of Ptarmigan.

Emma Grunwald/CBC
Emma Grunwald/CBC

The show will run Friday and Saturday at the Northern Arts and Cultural Centre in Yellowknife.

Lyman is acting alongside Kara Cherland, Susan Shantora and Ari Snyder, and is also independently producing and directing — it is not an official Ptarmigan production.

The play is about a young window who moves into a New York City apartment building and has to deal with her loud, vivacious older neighbours.

"She hears them singing through the walls all day and night, drives her a little crazy," Lyman said. But she's also considering a new love interest, something she's hesitant about.

"We provided [Lyman] with some in-kind and some financial supports going in, with the understanding that any losses incurred would be hers, and we would then be paid out from the net proceeds, if she had any profit," said Bethke.

At the dress rehearsal Thursday, Lyman said the show was a great opportunity to get her feet wet in directing.

"I've learned a lot, and I'm hoping I can use my experience with Ptarmigan Productions in the future with a big cast," she said.

Submitted by Ray Bethke
Submitted by Ray Bethke

Hope for returning to their annual production

Bethke and Lyman are both expecting to return with their annual production next spring.

"We're [also] looking at something in the fall to serve as a bit of a fundraiser in some ways to put some money in the bank," said Bethke.

"This would now be our third year going forward that we have not been able to put on a show, which has meant that we've been running without any income, effectively, for the two years of COVID."

Without the net proceeds from ticket sales, Bethke said that they've lost a major part of their revenue.

"More often than not, we break even on shows and maybe make a couple thousand dollars," he said.

Submitted by Ray Bethke
Submitted by Ray Bethke

Bethke said they were in the process of receiving a refund of up to 80 per cent of the upfront costs of the $15,000 paid to the licensing company for their cancelled 2020 production.

This past week, Ptarmigan received a city of Yellowknife community services grant for $10,000, which they had applied for back in January.

"[It's] to help us get moving and get back on our feet again," Bethke said.

He's excited for theatre to be back in Yellowknife this weekend with Lyman's show.

"I love the opportunity for people to get out and see live theatre again," he said.

"Get your tickets and bring friends."

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