Pandemic Pushes KCRep to Cancel Planned Season

New Offerings Will Include Small-Scale, Outdoor and Digital Productions

KC Rep’s Spencer Theatre, as reflected in this rendering of the set for the Rep’s 2016 production of THE FANTASTICS. (image by Helix Architecture + Design, Kansas City, MO)

Kansas City Repertory Theatre has cancelled its previously announced 2020-21 season, yet another example of the COVID-19 pandemic’s disastrous effect on live theater and all performing arts.

Artistic Director Stuart Carden and Executive Director Angela Gieras released a joint statement on Aug. 5 explaining the decision to pull the plug on what looked like a potentially exciting season that consisted of shows never before staged at the Rep. The one exception was the annual production of “A Christmas Carol.” The move, they said, was based on input from labor unions, social distancing requirements and current information about COVID-19.

At the same time, the Rep officials said they were working on a revised 2020-21 season.

“Like so many of you, we at KCRep are responding to the moment and making new plans,” Carden and Gieras wrote. “And while there is some heartache in this change, we are also discovering new and exciting opportunities to serve and engage our KC community in new and meaningful ways.”

The new season, they said, would be an “inventive, revelatory and entertaining mix of small-scale performances, outdoor family-friendly events and digital theater experiences.” A top priority of the new season will be “the health of patrons, staff and artists . . . with the highest public health standards in both Spencer Theatre and Copaken Stage. Details of the health and safety plan will be posted as the anticipated return date gets closer.”

Gieras also announced that “100 percent of KC Rep employees have been impacted through either decreased compensation, reduced hours, furloughs or job elimination.”

The now-cancelled season was to have included the folk musical “The Old Man and the Old Moon,” a revisionist version of “Dracula,” “The Royale” (based on African American boxer Jack Johnson) and Lin-Manuel Miranda’s musical “In the Heights.”

Robert Trussell

Robert Trussell is a veteran journalist who has covered news, arts and theater in Kansas City for almost four decades.

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