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The theatres are alive with the sound of music

Its stages dark since the pandemic lockdowns started, Drayton Entertainment is primed for the return of live theatre next month.

Theatres and the wider arts sector were among the hardest hit by the pandemic, with performers unable to work, prevented from doing what they love. After a long hiatus from the stage, they’ll hit the stage with high emotions, ready to perform for the first time in 20 months.

Drayton is easing back into things, with two holiday shows in the offing. At Hamilton Family Theatre in Cambridge, they’ll be getting into the Christmas spirit with ‘Back Home for the Holidays’ with a cast that includes the acclaimed David Rogers, joined by Jayme Armstrong and Alyssa Curto. At the St. Jacobs Country Playhouse, a revival of the pandemic-cancelled ‘A Closer Walk with Patsy Cline’ will feature 21 of the singers greatest hits in a show starring Rebecca Poff and Wade Lynch.

“In 2020, we had scheduled 18 productions over seven theatres around the province. We may not be jumping into that many and that scope of shows for a little bit, but we’ll know for sure once we hit the boards, as they say, with these two holiday shows,” said artistic director Alex Mustakas, noting the performers are eager to get back to it.

“It’s a kind of a tribute musical on the life of Patsy Cline. Playing Patsy is Rebecca Poff and then there’s another character, a DJ called Little Big Man played by Wade Lynch, who many of our audiences will remember from our production of ‘Sheer Madness’ that played at the Schoolhouse a couple of times. One of the funniest guys on stage, so we’re excited about it – it’s a great tribute show to one of the greats of country music,” he said of the St. Jacobs show.

Both shows run from December 1-26. Drayton is offering patrons a 2021 holiday season worry-free guarantee that gives flexibility to patrons booking tickets for the December shows. If a health concern arises or a show is cancelled, patrons will have many refund or exchange options.

“It’s been such a tough time that I think it’s going to be very emotional for everyone. People are working the box office lines already and it’s just a nice change [after] being dark for so long. I know our artists and musicians are going to be emotional the first time they are together to start the creative process. I’m sure it’ll be emotional on opening night, not only for our artists in our company, but for the audience as well, because they’ve really been craving that live communal experience that only live theatre can provide,” said Mustakas, noting Drayton’s productions were hit hard by the lockdowns.

“We were the first to close back in March and one of the last to reopen.”

Masks will be mandatory at all times in the theatre and during performances. Introducing what Mustakas calls a hybrid model, the shows will offer the option of different capacities for patrons to choose from, either 50 or 100 per cent capacity for the show, depending on which the audience prefers. The province lifted all capacity restrictions for live venues to allow for full occupancy.

“They just surveyed our audience and a majority said, ‘Yes, we’re ready to come back as long as people are double vaccinated and we wear masks.’ And then there’s some that still want a little bit of physical distancing. We know that people have varying comfort levels, and that’s what we’re trying to achieve.  On top of that, there are new protocols, our advanced cleaning protocols, and then [we’re] trying to restrict lobby assembly,” he added.

Drayton Entertainment’s 2022 schedule will be available in January. For tickets or more information go online.

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