Warren Gerds/Critic at Large: Pandemic speeds up digital arrival on area theater scene

Critic At Large

Digital ticketing, programs become more common

GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV) – The Green Bay Packers have something in common with the theater scene.

Mobile ticketing has arrived.

More is happening with cell phones at many Northeastern Wisconsin performance theaters.

COVID-19 has sped up the arrival into the future for many theatergoers.

The catalyst: No-touch protocols.

In a first, Lawrence University forced people to used their phones to read the program for a production of “The Marriage of Figaro” presented in early March 2020.

For paper-saving reasons, playgoers had to access a QR code to see who was who and what was what on stage.

I scoffed at that time.

The word “pandemic” was not yet resuscitated.

A few weeks later, though, the hammer fell. March 12, 2020, is the date most live performances stopped nationwide.

And then, by the time theater at large crept out of a dark age caused by the coronavirus, a transition had taken traction with a lot of variety.

Here are samples from current situations:

+ Sometimes, you buy a mobile ticket digitally but still receive a full printed program.

+ Sometimes, there is only a digital program, which causes some people to distract others by beaming up in the middle of a performance.

+ Sometimes, there is a skeleton program that’s printed, with a QR code for a full one that’s digital.

+ Sometimes, you can still receive a printed program yet have access to the digital version.

+ Some theaters continue to solely print paper tickets.

+ The Fox Cities Performing Arts Center in Appleton allows entry by either.

I think the die has been cast, and most theaters eventually will take on mobile ticketing and digital play programs.

In many theaters, printed programs will be a thing of the past.

What will remain is the live experience on stage, a whole living world of the wonders of music and all the thoughts and adventures of theater.

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