Lights in theaters from Broadway to community playhouses on the East End have remained dark amid the coronavirus pandemic.
On the North Fork, the health crisis has canceled spring and summer productions at the North Fork Community Theatre, as well as the annual Northeast Stage Shakespeare in the Park production in Greenport.
“We’re obviously not performing anytime soon,” said Mary Kalich, who currently serves as the treasurer on the NFCT’s board of directors. But despite the limits on in-person gatherings, though, local thespians are finding ways to keep the shows alive.
As a result, the 12th annual NFCT gala — appropriately themed ‘As We Stumble Along’ — will be held virtually June 12.
“As we all “Stumble Along” in these uncertain times, we appreciate how music and dance can bring joy and meaning to our lives. Although we are in an ‘intermission’ right now, we wanted to reach out and connect,” an invitation to the online event reads.
The event will feature both live-streamed and recorded performances from NFCT members, as well as Broadway actors Rob Bartlett, Jim Borstelmann and working actor Tom Ashton, who himself is a NFCT Youth on Stage alumni.
“It’s a unique opportunity for us in that normally we couldn’t get Broadway actors to come perform at our gala,” Ms. Kalich said.
The online platform will also allow theater alum to get involved. “We’ll shout out people involved in shows in the 80s, 90s. I’m excited that we can invite a wide variety of people to participate,” Ms. Kalich said. “Theater is all about being connected, active and involved. A lot of people are putting content out there.”
The gala typically concludes with a performance from the Youth on Stage cast. This year, that performance will come with a twist.
Youth director Chelsea Chizever is working with a group of about 30, via Zoom, on a dance mashup that will be edited for the gala.
“We revamped it a bit to celebrate the past 50 years of Youth on Stage with the most popular songs from those shows,” Ms. Chizever said.
She said she empathizes with her cast, many of them students at local schools who have been unable to perform all spring.
“It provides a sense of community,” she said. “And provides [our audience] with entertainment. Everyone needs a little bit of normalcy.”
In addition to performances, the gala will feature an online art auction. Twelve local artists have donated pieces to be auctioned off for the gala, Ms. Kalich said.
The pieces are all currently on live display in the vacant former Capital One storefront on Love Lane. Ms. Kalich thanked the owners, Hardcorner Partners and the 245 Love Lane Project, for allowing the art to be displayed through June 12. “You can go look in the window, maybe while you’re waiting for your take-out food,” she said. Bids for the local artist auction can be emailed to [email protected]
While the gala will be free to view online, the theater is welcoming donations. “We want everyone to have access to it,” Ms. Kalich said. “We’re hoping that those who are capable right now and would like to support the theater can donate.”