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Warren Gerds/Critic at Large: Coronavirus: Arts center in Oshkosh sketches a plan for 2020-21 season

Coronavirus

The Grand Oshkosh

Screenshot of Joe Ferlo, executive director of The Grand Oshkosh, hosting an online show Friday night, May 8, from the stage of the theater. (Warren Gerds)

OSHKOSH, Wis. (WFRV)

A plan for a 2020-2021 performance season was announced online Friday night by The Grand Oshkosh.

Joe Ferlo, executive director, made a show of it with an online concert by the B2wins duo followed by a video of shows to come. However, because of poor transmission quality, Ferlo soon opted to post the video online at thegrandoshkosh.org.

The lineup:

+ B2wins, Sept. 12.

+ “James Garner’s Tribute to Johnny Cash,” Oct. 10-11, a rescheduled show.

+ “Spirits of the Grand Tours,” Ot. 20-24.

+ “Christmas with the Four Phantoms,” Dec. 18-20, with Franc D’Ambrosio, John Cudia, Brent Barrett and Ciaran Sheehan and a female vocalist.

+ ABBA Mania, Jan. 19-20.

+ “Oshkosh on Broadway,” Jan. 29-30.

+ “A Shari Lewis Legacy Starring Mallory Lewis and Lamb Chop,” March 20

+ Farwell Angelina, April 10, a rescheduled show.

+ “Fan Faire The Concert Starring Alpin Hong and 300 Students,” April (date TBA), a rescheduled show.

+ “The Start of Something Big – The Music of Steve and Eydie,” June 11-12, 2021.

+ Oshkosh Symphony Orchestra and Oshkosh Community Players performances, TBA.

Joe Ferlo also spoke from the stage of the Grand Opera House.

“We all know that things are changing daily, hourly, by the minute sometimes, and we had a choice here at the Grand. It was either sit tight and kind of let the world happen around us, or we could keep our feet moving, try to come up with some things and try to put a season in front of you so that we’re ready to go when the community’s ready to go,” he said.

At present, the facility is shut at least to July 15.

“You’ll notice a few things different about the season,” Ferlo said. “It’s a little light in the fall, a little heavy in the spring. I think that kind of makes sense. I can tell you there’s a Plan B for the fall shows, just in case.

“We announced the educational shows the other day, and by the same token, we don’t know sitting here today what it’s going to look like, you know, in seats behind me. What will social distancing look like? What will the capacity of The Grand be? – because the comfort of the audience is the most important thing that’s going to happen. We have to figure out where we’re going to go with this, and the only place we can go is forward…

“We’re not going to talk about tickets because I don’t know what the seating chart is going to look like yet. We’re not going to talk about procedures yet, but trust me, we’re working of procedures so you’re comfortable here in the theater when the time comes for you to come back.”

In the region, community arts centers are looking to the future with caution and holding back on defining 2020-2021 calendars. Fox Cities Performing Arts Center in Appleton announced a season, but that came March 9, just before the wheels fell off all live performance plans.

In a message emailed to The Grand Oshkosh patrons, Joe Ferlo drew a picture what virtually all performance places face. That message:

“Obviously, we enter this at a time of great uncertainty. The staff at The Grand has been working very hard to develop new policies, for when we are able to re-open. The public needs a general sense of safety and well-being in all arts and culture venues, and I intend for The Grand to continue to be at the forefront of making the adjustments – which may include reduced and socially-distanced seating; daily temperature tests for staff and volunteers, seating patrons earlier to avoid groups of people gathering in lobbies, and more.

“You can expect, the math of reducing capacity is a little daunting. That’s why the support of our sponsors will be critical as we lead the celebration – once we are safe to do so. Our community is going to want – need – arts and entertainment, as part of the healing. Please consider supporting us in the season to come. I am happily available – and getting good at – to discuss via zoom.”

The Grand Opera House is a 550-seat facility. Opened in 1883, it is the oldest theater in the region. The building is owned by and receives financial support from the City of Oshkosh.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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