Brie Roche as Beth, Abby White as Jo, Cecelia Guerra as Amy and Jackie Griegg as Meg are part of City Theater’s cast of ‘Little Women: The Broadway Musical.’ The show was canceled earlier this year due to the coronavirus pandemic. Courtesy Photo

BIDDEFORD — Jo, Amy, Meg and Beth and the rest of the cast and crew of “Little Women: The Broadway Musical,” were ready to perform. It was mid-March, the 13th to be exact, and the curtain for the premiere of the show was due to rise at City Theater two hours later.

Except it didn’t. Not for the public anyway; while the cast performed for themselves that night, the show didn’t go on as usual. Coronavirus had arrived in the U.S., and President Donald Trump declared a National State of Emergency.

Everything changed, for everyone and everything, including Biddeford’s City Theater.

“Whenever we can get back on stage, we will, when its safe for us, and safe for our patrons,” said Mark Nahorney, president of City Theater Associates.

They’re adapting, and making plans for the future, just as others are, whether the venue be a theater or a traditional summer festival.

City Theater will mark its 125th year in 2021. Some shows have been canceled this season, and organizers are looking ahead to the 2021 season – all the while keeping an eye on this year and a return to the stage, should restrictions surrounding coronavirus allow it. Journal Tribune file photo

Vinegar Hill Music Theatre in Arundel announced the cancellation of its 2020 season in early April.

Further down the coast, the Ogunquit Playhouse recently announced it would look forward to 2021.

“Ogunquit Playhouse has announced that it will halt productions on all scheduled 2020 shows at its historic theatre and cancel its 88th season,” wrote Cheryl Farley, the theater’s director of marketing and communications. “Ogunquit Playhouse has not gone dark for a season since World War II.”

In Saco, the annual St. Demetrios Greek Festival, traditionally held in mid-July, won’t be a three-day event, said co-chair Tom Carr. He said the church plans a celebration of some sort, and the committee is mulling ideas and a date. As yet, exactly what form the celebration will take, and when, has not been settled.

Last week, La Kermesse officials announced that the festival that pays tribute to the French heritage of local residents from around the county and beyond won’t happen this year.

City Theater Associates has cancelled 34 performances — not only its own, but those with local entities, whether it bye the Biddeford Saco Chamber of Commerce, arts groups like Engine, and an arrangement forged with Vinegar Hill Music Theatre, said Nahorney.

“Everything is on hold, except the online newsletter, and casts of former shows are giving presentations,” said Nahorney.

He said the part-time office manager and artistic director remain on staff.

The theater has taken take a financial hit with the postponement of shows, Nahorney said, and has applied for a refund of the $8,000 it paid for the rights to Little Women .The theater refunded  ticket sales, although some people generously donated the amount of their tickets back to the theater. A major capital campaign is on hold.

There is a hint of potential good news. Currently, there’s a U.S. Air Force Band performance scheduled for Aug. 10, and there’s talk of holding it in an outdoor location — but all that is a possibility and depends on what restrictions are in place.

City Theater Artistic Director Linda Sturdivant said when Little Women didn’t open, she thought they’d be back in a couple of weeks. Depending on when the “all clear” is given, she’s hopeful the show could go on.

“The stage, props, lights, the set everything is ready, as soon as we get the go-ahead,” she said. “We would need about five rehearsals. There’s no firm date when we can open, but if it is early enough, I think Little Women could be up and on its feet,”

In the meantime, City Theater Associates is thinking ahead to next season. One of the shows will feature tap dancing, and so lessons, by local instructor Mariel Roy, are being offered through Zoom. If you’re not  in the show, but still interested in tap lessons, that’s okay, said Sturdivant. People can watch  download the virtual tap classes, at $5 each, by contacting City Theater through Facebook.

And of course, there’s that glimmer of hope for this year.

“I can plan anything if I know the parameters,” said Sturdivant.

“We’re coming up on 125th anniversary in 2021,” said Nahorney. “We got through the (1918-19) flu, so will get through this one too.”

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