LA County theaters aim to keep doors open amid omicron surge – Daily News


On the chilly, post-rainstorm afternoon of Christmas Eve in Hollywood, theatergoers were packed shoulder-to-shoulder into the red velvet seats of the historic Pantages Theatre, gleefully starting to nibble snacks as they awaited the start of “Hamilton.” According to their Instagram confessions, many had received tickets in their prematurely opened Christmas stockings. (And at ticket prices veering past $1,000, that’s quite a stocking stuffer.)

And then, shortly before the 2 p.m. curtain, they heard the announcement dreaded by all but firmly expected by those with a bleaker view of our world: The performance was canceled.

Breakthrough cases of COVID-19 had showed up among the cast when the actors were tested, sensibly, immediately before showtime. The production quickly notified ticketholders that the production would take a hiatus through Jan. 23 and that refunds would be automatically paid — though patrons at the Dec. 24 show were, according to their Instagram complaints, still waiting for their refunds to process.

But the public is apparently starving for its fix of “Hamilton,” Lin-Manuel Miranda’s ingenious rap-based recounting of our nation’s early history. So the Pantages production is currently scheduled to reopen Jan. 26 and run through March 17.

And according to the theater’s website, should any of those shows be canceled, patrons holding tickets will receive an email (hopefully timely), and “payment will be automatically refunded to the original method of payment.”

Meanwhile, the Pantages’ sister theater, the Dolby, is planning to mount “The Simon & Garfunkel Story” this weekend, but as of this week was offering seats “for as low as $35.50.”

‘Million Dollar’ protocols

Two other large theaters in the Los Angeles area plan January openings. La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts intends to proceed with its upcoming production of “Million Dollar Quartet” despite the current spike in COVID cases.

“We’re owned and operated by a city, and we follow all the protocols exactly,” said BT McNicholl, the theater’s producing artistic director. “We do whatever is official.”

Last year, in the theater’s normal course of business, it scheduled this show for mid-January, one of its customary slots for its five-show season.

“Like a lot of people,” said McNicholl, “we thought we’d be out of the woods by then. We’re still going ahead. There’s no reason not to.”

Indeed, audiences showed up in the fall, when La Mirada ran “Mamma Mia!” McNicholl reports it was the theater’s sixth-highest grossing show of all time, “so, we bucked the odds.”

In the event the city decides to close “Million Dollar Quartet,” or the producers feel it’s unsafe for the cast, said McNicholl, the show will shutter, and ticketholders will be notified by email or robocalls.

However, for those audiences who believe they can chance it, two hours can speed thrillingly by in this recounting of the actual one-time recording session that gathered rock ’n’ roll legends Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Carl Perkins for the first and only time. The musical boasts a book by Colin Escott and Floyd Mutrux, and Tim Seib directs this production.

Everybody’s talking about safety

Up the road, Center Theatre Group remains optimistic about the run of “Everybody’s Talking About Jamie,” currently scheduled for Jan. 16-Feb. 10 at the Ahmanson. A product of London’s West End, “Jamie” is an uplifting tale of an accepting mother and her teenage son who has dreams of being a drag queen despite naysayers and bullies. Dan Gillespie Sells composed the music, with book and lyrics by Tom MacRae. Jonathan Butterell directs.

Meghan Pressman, managing director and CEO of Center Theatre Group, expressed absolute certainty that CTG’s production will enjoy a COVID-free run.

“What we see happening in our field is because of backstage issues,” she said of the increasingly frequent closings or postponements of productions, from Broadway through our town’s smaller houses. “We feel confident that (backstage contagion) will not be a factor, based on collaboration and understanding of protocols with this production team.”

In addition, she said, the production works with The Music Center and Los Angeles County on audience safety, continuing to examine and follow the best-advised protocols without causing audiences “whiplash” when protocols change.

And, should the show need to cancel or postpone, CTG will notify ticketholders by robocalls or emails, “or by smoke signals if we have to,” she says, with one exception: CTG has no means of notifying those who purchased tickets from third-party vendors.

Dany Margolies is a Los Angeles-based writer.

January plays

‘Hamilton’

Where: Hollywood Pantages Theatre, 6233 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood

When: Jan. 26-March 27: 8 p.m. Tuesdays-Fridays, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturdays, 1 and 6:30 p.m. Sundays

Length: 2 hours, 30 minutes, including intermission

Suitability: Ages 10 and up; children under 5 will not be admitted to the theater

COVID-19 policy: Ticketholders must wear masks and have ID and proof of full vaccination (boosters not required at this time). Those 12 and under who are unvaccinated or those with medical or religious reasons not be vaccinated must submit a negative PCR test taken within 48 hours of the curtain time or rapid antigen test taken within 12 hours of curtain. At-home tests will not be accepted.

Tickets: $100-$1,290

Information: 800-982-2787, hollywoodpantages.com

‘Everybody’s Talking About Jamie’

Where: Ahmanson Theatre, 135 N. Grand Ave., Los Angeles

When: Jan. 16-Feb. 20: 8 p.m. Tuesdays-Fridays, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturdays, 1 and 6:30 p.m. Sundays

Length: 2 hours, 40 minutes, including intermission

Suitability: Teens and adults. Children under 6 are not admitted to the theater.

COVID policy: All audience members must wears masks and be fully vaccinated; booster shots are highly recommended and will be mandatory starting in February. Unvaccinated guests, including children or those citing a medical or religious reason, must show proof of a negative PCR test taken within 48 hours of curtain time or a rapid antigen test taken within 24 hours. At-home tests will not be accepted.

Tickets: $30-$145

Information: 213-972-4400, www.CenterTheatreGroup.org

‘Million Dollar Quartet’

When: Jan. 22-Feb. 13: 7:30 p.m. Thursdays, 8 p.m. Fridays, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturdays, 1:30 and 6:30 p.m. Sundays (no performance Jan. 23 at 6:30 p.m.)

Where: La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts, 14900 La Mirada Blvd., La Mirada (ample free parking adjacent to the theater, but enter theater on north side only)

Tickets: $17-$79; subject to change

Length: Approximately 2 hrs., no intermission

Suitability: Preteens and up

COVID-19 policy: Adults and children of all ages must show proof of full vaccination or a negative COVD-19 test taken within 48 hours (for PCR tests) or 24 hours (for antigent tests). At-home tests not accepted.

Information: 562-944-9801 or 714-994-6310, www.lamiradatheatre.com


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