Boston Theatre — Only Intermission
By Kobi Kassal and Alan Koolik, Photography by Ella Kang
It has now been four months since anyone in the city of Boston has produced a live theatrical event. No one knew the lock down would last this long, and unfortunately the light at the end of the tunnel seems to be getting further away everyday.
We decided to hop in the car with Theatre Talk Boston photographer Ella Kang and visit the historic theatres and institutions that make up our city’s vibrant theatre community and check in on some of our favorite spots to see how they have been holding up. Empty lobbies and dark marquees now fill the space of places that once brought such joy to Bostonians and one day will again.
Starting in Cambridge, we stopped at the American Repertory Theater who, at the time of shutdown, had just closed Gloria: A Life - the Equity callboard still hangs up in the now abandoned Loeb Drama Center lobby. Diane Paulus’ much anticipated revival of 1776 that was supposed to open this past May will now be pushed to next season.
Down the road at the Central Square Theater, a once bustling street now sits quiet. The Nora Theatre Company & WAM Theatre’s production of Pipeline was cancelled in the middle of the run and has since been offered via video stream for patrons to view Dominique Morisseau’s painfully relevant play.
Across the river, we came to the Huntington Avenue Theatre, where the marquee for The Bluest Eye still stands. Set to open in late April, the Huntington Theatre Company has announced they plan to postpone this show, along with the rest of the season, with no work on stage until at least 2021.
The Lyric Stage Company, located on the second floor of 140 Clarendon Street, stands quiet and serene as it waits to open once again.
The South End is as vibrant as ever with Beehive, Barcelona Wine Bar, and Picco spilling out onto the sidewalk. Sandwiched between is a now dark Calderwood Pavilion, home to the Huntington Theatre Company, Speakeasy Stage Company, and so many more. Down a few steps is the BCA Plaza Theatre home to the Boston Center for the Arts.
Approaching the Theater District, we immediately noticed a contrast from the busy South End to the almost abandoned streets of downtown. The Boch Center’s Wang Theatre sat in a sad state of disuse. Across the street at the Shubert, neighboring restaurant Abby Lane has taken over their sidewalk. The Wilbur also sits quiet—with their year-round slate of busy programming, a dark marquee is something I thought I would never see.
A block away is a now boarded up Charles Playhouse. While Shear Madness announced it was closing after 40 years the Sunday before the city shut down, Blue Man Group is still adorning the front. The future is uncertain for our favorite blue colored entertainers as their owners, Cirque Du Soleil, have just filed for bankruptcy protection. We hope they can once again entertain Bostonians with PVC pipes and toilet paper as they have since 1995.
The Emerson Colonial sits boarded up on Boylston Street after a wildly successful run of the pre-Broadway engagement of Plaza Suite and Broadway in Boston’s national tour of Fiddler on the Roof. Ambassador Theatre Group has not yet commented on the theatre's future or when they hope to reopen.
Both of ArtsEmerson’s locations, the Cutler Majestic Theatre and the Paramount Center, sit still after months of inactivity. After protests erupted downtown in late May, both locations remain locked up and protected. Boston Lyric Opera was forced to shutter its production of Norma at the Majestic after only their dress rehearsal due to the shut down.
The golden gate of the Citizens Bank Opera House, home to Broadway in Boston and the Boston Ballet, was closed. Both institutions were forced to shutter their current seasons, but according to the Ballet’s website, they plan to proceed with The Nutcracker in December.
While we might not know when, we certainly know that theatre will be back. The curtain will rise again and Theatre Talk Boston will be here, supporting the community, every step of the way.
Kobi can be reached on Twitter @kkassal.