Oh Canada Eh Dinner Theatre in Niagara Falls has supported many local charities for more than 25 years.
But the next benefit show hits closer to home: It’s for itself.
Savaged by the COVID-19 pandemic, the company is facing a crisis that could close its doors permanently. To help buy some time, current and former cast members will perform for a #WeRiseAgain online benefit show Tuesday, May 12, starting at 7 p.m. on the company’s Facebook page.
“Honestly, right now we’re the charity,” said general manager Eric Hitchcock Jr. “We’ve explored all options and we really need some help.”
Without season subscribers, the company relies completely on ticket sales for its summer season, along with original musicals performed throughout the year. But with the pandemic pulling the plug on live theatre, Hitchcock said many U.S. patrons — unable to cross the border — are requesting refunds instead of tickets for another date.
“Everybody is laid off, everything it takes to run our business is shut down,” he said.
“The big killer is the refunds. From March 14 up to until May 30, (it’s) 40 shows cancelled.”
The company is offering two-for-one incentives to convince people not to cancel, he added. If they paid for two tickets, they’ll now have four.
“We know at some point we’ll be back. On what scale is the real question.”
The company tentatively hopes to be doing shows again by July with a different seating plan, said Hitchcock — no more long tables with people sitting side-by-side.
Story courtesy of Welland Tribune