SOUTH BEND — The American Theatre Guild will deliver reveals again to the Morris Performing Arts Heart in November, 20 months after the roaring success of its final present, “The Lion King,” halted amid the pandemic.
It’s getting back from a zero-income yr when the nonprofit touring firm rebooked nearly each present on its tour 4 to 5 instances, considering it had discovered a protected window, Government Director Amy Hamm mentioned.
However, after seeing COVID-19 vaccinations rise and hospitalizations decline, she mentioned, “We really feel assured that we’re there now.”
Hamm mentioned the Guild, which presents Broadway in South Bend, additionally comes with renewed pleasure from Tuesday’s information that the Morris has launched a $30 million marketing campaign to improve the theater’s seats, construct a parking storage and create an endowment to foster variety and fairness within the arts because the Morris turns 100 subsequent yr.
“That’s huge for us,” she mentioned of facets such because the expanded foyer and outside inexperienced area for patrons.
She mentioned it provides incentive for season ticket holders to stick with the Morris, however it’s additionally engaging as a result of, she famous, “We’ve got to persuade reserving brokers they need to come to South Bend.”
Underneath the title “Broadway Is Again in South Bend Collection,” the newly introduced season will deliver a number of reveals that had been deliberate for the 2020-21 season that have been all canceled within the pandemic.
The Guild desires to deliver again “The Lion King” for a full run, however, as a result of the Disney musical is often booked out years prematurely, it would take some time, Hamm mentioned. It gained’t be within the 2021-22 season. If it does come, she mentioned, anticipate an ordinary, several-week run. Due to the economics of the massive, expensive present and its enormous set, it wouldn’t return to merely end off the remaining two weeks from its 3-week run in March 2020.
The Morris sheltered the in depth set and 230 puppets of “The Lion King” for Disney till final summer season, initially hoping the pandemic would carry and the present may return. The products then stayed in trailers in South Bend till they went on to extra everlasting storage.
Among the many reveals canceled and rebooked for South Bend, “An Officer and a Gentleman” is the one one which hasn’t but been carried out within the U.S. The stage adaptation relies on the Oscar-winning 1982 movie with Richard Gere and Debra Winger. Hamm mentioned a inventive workforce from the Guild gathered in the course of the pandemic to include music from the Eighties and Nineteen Nineties, matching the hit Joe Cocker/Jennifer Warnes track, “Up The place We Belong,” that had been the movie’s theme.
“They hunkered down in a lodge in a pod and labored via the songs and script,” Hamm mentioned.
It is going to be staged in June 2022.
“Hairspray,” coming subsequent March, is also rebooked, however Hamm mentioned that final yr’s social unrest and consciousness, together with from Black Lives Matter, makes the present extra poignant.
“It does such a superb job of speaking about inclusion,” she mentioned of the musical comedy a few 16-year-old lady in Baltimore within the Nineteen Sixties who dances her method onto a TV present, then makes use of that platform to speak about integration. “The principle character sees the significance of together with everybody.”
Hamm mentioned “Hairspray” carefully aligns with the Morris’ marketing campaign, notably its Fairness within the Arts initiative to contain extra numerous artists and clientele.
“We stay up for working with the Morris,” she mentioned.
As a result of the December manufacturing of the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical “Cats” is suitable for all ages, it would enable households to deliver children to a Broadway present, she mentioned, filling an necessary position for the Guild as a nonprofit.
In February, “The Simon & Garfunkel Story” will put two performers on stage who apparently appear like the long-lasting musicians, backed by a stay band and a projection display screen. They’ll chat between well-liked songs, however principally, Hamm mentioned, “It is going to be a re-enactment of a Simon & Garfunkel live performance on stage.”
“It’s an actual favourite for our patrons,” she mentioned of the present, which has performed in a number of cities.
“Waitress,” coming in April, is the one present that’s rebooked from the 2019-20 season.
Hamm mentioned the pandemic had hit the Guild particularly arduous as a result of, as the most important nonprofit touring firm within the U.S., it had a employees of about 50 folks on the time, primarily based in Kansas Metropolis. It bought “inventive” in slicing bills, trimming the employees dimension and utilizing furloughs, she mentioned, whereas its customer support stored patrons abreast of reveals that have been consistently being rebooked.
Requested in regards to the protocols to anticipate, Hamm mentioned the Guild can be speaking with nationwide and native well being specialists but in addition with the performers’ unions about what is smart to all of them.
“We expect it’s a shifting goal, however we’re completely dedicated to a protected atmosphere,” she mentioned.
If the virus spikes once more prefer it did final fall, she mentioned, certain, reveals may very well be rebooked. However, though the union teams haven’t signed something formally for the 2021-22 season, she mentioned, “There’s a powerful feeling within the trade that there’s a powerful path ahead, that we will open and current this fall.”