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Warren Gerds/Critic at Large: Coronavirus: What was supposed to be pleasure has vanished


Area performance scene nearly silenced

GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV) – Northeastern Wisconsin normally is a beehive of entertainment activity at this time of year.

The coronavirus COVID-19 has taken all kinds of fun out of the mix.

It has been a grim five months of confusion, disappointment and dismay for what is supposed to be pleasure.

If there would be no pandemic, people who like plays and musicals this week would have a choice of 15 productions taking place in the region at popular venues.

Hard hit is Appleton’s Mile of Music, which this weekend was expecting 200 adventurous musical acts to perform 700 sets in 70 venues.

In Door County, 80 elite musicians normally would be arriving for three weeks of the marvelous Peninsula Music Festival.

Because of uncertainty, some local productions were put on hold again and again.

Three times – March, June and August – performances of The Dance Company’s “The Little Mermaid” were postponed, affecting scores of dancers in the Green Bay area.

“Unfortunately, the seniors and dancers not returning will lose that ability to perform for their last performance, so my heart goes out to them,” says Tammy Petras of the troupe leadership. “(They include) seniors Amber Polomis and Josey Wolf and principal dancer Jessica Petras.”

Think of all the hours of preparation now gone.

In Menasha, UW-Fox Theatre reports these people are disappointed because the annual “Dream Role” showcase was canceled: 138 performers, 23 technicians, 43 ushers and front of house staff and 1,860 audience members.

Door County’s fabulous professional theaters are shut for the rest of the year.

Northern Sky Theater alone employs 60 select actors and technical crafts people.

The annual economic impact of the arts in Door County alone has been estimated to be almost $25 million.

Since the coronavirus shut down performance action around March 12, I have tried to keep track of the impact in numbers. This is not precise, but nearly 500 public productions and at least 1,800 performances have been postponed or canceled in Northeastern Wisconsin.

Is dismal done? Not yet, but some live performances are starting to surface – by Let Me Be Frank Productions in Green Bay, Rogue Theater in Sturgeon Bay and The Forst Inn Arts Collective in Tisch Mills.

And people like Tammy Petras offer bright rays, like this about 2021 and “The Little Mermaid” by The Dance Company: “The good news is that it is a wonderful show, and all the remaining cast is excited to perform next spring. The dances are fun, and the dancers are doing an amazing job. We have a great lineup of guest performers. The costumes are amazing with all sorts of colorful sea creatures. Also, the production sets are wonderful.”

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