1:03pm PT by Chris Gardner
Center Theatre Group Sets Ahmanson Theatre Opening for April 2021
Following a prolonged closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Center Theatre Group has announced that the 54th season at the Ahmanson Theatre is now slated to begin in April 2021, per artistic director Michael Ritchie.
Due to the delay, The Lehman Trilogy, Dear Evan Hansen, Les Misérables and Hadestown are no longer available in their previously announced dates and will be rescheduled. The season will now open with To Kill a Mockingbird on April 29, 2021. In addition, returning musicals Come From Away and Ain’t Too Proud have been shortened to two weeks each to accommodate other markets.
This week's announcement also sheds some light on just how devastating the pandemic has been on Los Angeles’ leading nonprofit theatre company, comprised of the Ahmanson Theatre, Mark Taper Forum, and Kirk Douglas Theatre venues. The latter two are also expected to resume shows in spring of 2021, and when CTG open its doors next year, stages will have been dark for 56 weeks resulting in $40 million in los revenue. The blow has led to a 65 percent reduction of CTG's operating budget and expansion of staff furloughs, per the announcement.
As many businesses across Los Angeles open doors for the first time since March following prolonged closures forced by strict safer-at-home orders to help curb the spread of the novel coronavirus. However, live entertainment venues have remained closed as the experience of sitting in an enclosed space for an extended period of time while taking in a show, performance or concert has not yet been approved by public health officials.
In his statement, Ritchie said his team examined "every possible scenario" for reopening by putting health and safety at the forefront but a solution could not be found. “It is with great sadness that we have reached a point where it is simply impossible for us to envision safely returning to the Ahmanson, Taper and Douglas until spring of next year,” he said. “Ultimately, it became clear to us, and to many touring productions scheduled to play the Ahmanson, that there is no way to be certain that such safety could exist earlier than next year. I could never have imagined such an extended period where Los Angeles would be without the ability to gather as a community and experience the transformative power of theatre."
He called the decision "painful" for his staff, artists and the L.A. residents who pass through their doors. "We are continuing to find hope and inspiration in our online programs, which include virtual education initiatives and our Art Goes On Project, with more to come. I am confident that we can return safely to the stage with this new schedule and, should health officials become more optimistic about a safe timeline to resume large gatherings, we will work as quickly and safely as possible to return to the stage sooner.”
To help the organization through the challenging times, CTG launched an emergency fund — Art Goes On: Emergency Giving Fund — for which members of the organization’s board of directors have agreed to match all donations up to $500,000 with a deadline of June 30.