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Playhouse sticking to capacity limits

The Thousand Islands Playhouse in Gananoque has decided to continue to follow its original capacity restrictions, despite the government’s recent loosening of restrictions for Ontario theatres.

The changes came into effect early Saturday, allowing theatres, concert halls and other designated venues to open up at 100 per cent capacity.

However, the Thousand Islands Playhouse has decided to continue to operate and maintain the 50 per cent capacity for the remainder of the 2021 season.

Although the theatre has about 50 performances left in the season, management felt audience members who committed to certain restrictions needed to be informed of the change, said managing artistic director Brett Christopher.

The playhouse wanted to show its regular customers that it is also committed to the restrictions and protocols it put in place back in March to keep everyone safe, by continuing with the capacity and social distancing restrictions.

Despite some of the impacts the theatre has felt from diminished audience numbers, management wanted to make sure the regular audience members were continuing to get the experience that they previously bought.

Currently the auditorium has socially distanced pairs, and if the house was filled to 100 per cent capacity there would no longer be any social distancing.

“If you purchased tickets with that in mind and that was no longer the case you would maybe make the choice to no longer come,” explained Christopher. “We really wanted to keep up our commitments that we had made.”

The theatre continues to operate with its previous safety plan, including an outdoor lobby tent for guests to wait before the play starts, and, once the show is about to start, people are called inside into their socially distanced pairs.

The plays chosen for this season range from 70 to 100 minutes without an intermission, to reduce the level of interaction among people, explained Christopher.

The playhouse has sold out plays to the 50 per cent capacity; every single performance so far, said Christopher. From this point forward, all newly announced productions and performances, including the 2022 season plays, will be sold to 100 per cent capacity.

“It was a big step for an audience to decide to buy a ticket and return to the theatre, so we want to repay that loyalty instead of changing the rules mid-stream. We want to say we’re grateful they decided to return to the theatre this year despite COVID and despite the restrictions,” said Christopher.

According to Christopher, the Springer Theater is set to open in May of next year, as long as restrictions stay the way they are.

“Both of our venues will be reopening at full capacity then,” he added.
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