LOGAN – Cache County’s shift to a moderate threat level for coronavirus infection couldn’t have come at a better time for local performing artists and venues.
“We are thrilled to see that Gov. Cox has moved Cache County into the ‘moderate risk’ level,” says Angie LeVere, the client services manager at the Ellen Eccles Theatre in downtown Logan. “This new designation allows us to seat the theater at a greater capacity.”
The first beneficiary of that change will be the Music Theatre West production of the off-beat musical “Little Shop of Horrors,” which is slated to debut tonight and run through Mar. 13.
“The timing (of this change) couldn’t have been better,” according to CacheARTS director Wendi Hassan, “because there were only a few seats remaining (under previous seating protocols) for several of the upcoming performances of ‘Little Shop of Horrors’.”
To safeguard the health of audience members under Cache County’s previous high threat designation, MTW business director Celeste Baillio explains that the theater company began selling a limited number of tickets for its current production by guaranteeing that ticket holding groups would be separated by at least six seats in all directions. That seating protocol to ensure social distancing was successfully pioneered by Hassan and the Eccles Theatre staff during their Random Acts Community performances in the summer and fall of 2020.
Under reduced threat levels announced by Cox on Thursday, theater managers can legally fill every seat in a performing arts venue, provided all members of the audience wear face coverings.
Hassan and Baillio admit that they aren’t willing to go that far so soon.
“Yes, we are opening more seats (for upcoming performances of ‘Little Shop of Horrors’),” Baillio says. “But we’re trying to also be conscious that people will be nervous about fully jumping into ‘side-by-side’ seating again. So we’re taking a middle ground approach.”
“There will now be at least couple of seats between each party of ticket holders,” Hassan explains.
LeVere says that “masks are still required and must be worn for the duration of the performance. Additionally, we will still be doing extra cleaning and sanitizing, performing temperature checks for arriving ticket holders, providing hand sanitizing stations and encouraging contactless purchasing of concessions.”
“This change is still very new,” Hassan adds. “We have not yet made any changes to the seating arrangements for other upcoming performances, including ‘Sleeping Beauty’ by the Cache Valley Civic Ballet, CacheARTS’ presentation of the Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company and the musical ‘Matilda’ by the Cache Theatre Company.”
But Hassan says that similar announcements about those upcoming productions will likely be made in the near future.
In the meantime, tickets for newly available seats for “Little Shop of Horrors” can be obtained by accessing the CacheARTS and Music Theatre West websites.