The McCallum Theatre's long-awaited grand reopening is slated for December 3 and will require all "patrons, artists, volunteers, staff, sponsors, media, and vendors" to be fully vaccinated. The announcement came down Thursday with the Executive Committee and Board of Trustees voting unanimously on the decision for the 2021-2022 season.
Those in attendance will have to show proof of vaccination and photo identification in order to enter the theatre.
“This is a Board initiative. Every member of our Board of Trustees is in full agreement that the safety and health of all visitors to the McCallum Theatre is our primary responsibility,” said Harold Matzner, Chairman of the McCallum Board of Trustees. “There is nothing more important than the well-being of our audiences, artists, volunteers and staff. This policy reflects our commitment to making the McCallum a safe space for everyone. When you sit down in your seat you will not have to worry about who is sitting next to you. That person will be fully vaccinated or they will not be there.”
On March 12, 2020 the lights dimmed and the curtains closed without any indication of when the show would go on.
"By the time we reopened the theater in December, that will be more than 600 days between," McCallum Theatre President and CEO, Jamie Grant said.
Organizers said they are working on the specifics of how to implement the new policy as the season nears. Currently, the reopening date is set for December 3 with Broadway's Tony award-winning musical comedy Hairspray, but there may be shows added in November in response to an influx of ticket sales since the new season was announced, according to a theatre spokesperson.
"What we do know for sure is that our strategy is based on people sitting in every seat in the theater. So as we look at that strategy, that this is what's required, the economics that's required for us to operate the theater, that every seat be used. The reason this vaccination policy makes so much sense is you don't know who's sitting beside you. But I can guarantee that whoever it is, is fully vaccinated. And that's a level of safety that we think will be greatly beneficial and received by everybody," Grant said.
But the new requirement may not sit well with all ticket holders. While there has been a major boost in ticket sales, some people may not be vaccinated and are not planning to.
"And if someone doesn't want to follow this board policy, I respect that. I disagree with it, but I respect it. And they of course will get 100% refund as requested," Grant said.
At a time when COVID-19 has shown a spike in cases in Riverside County, and with concerns over the highly contagious Delta variant, theatre executives are airing on the side of caution. In accordance with the county and state, guests will not need to wear masks unless they want to.
"And our goal is to provide a safe environment for everybody. And I think this decision helps provide that. And I know that there's nothing as wonderful as a live performance. There's nothing as exciting as that sharing of an experience with artists and audiences. And people have really missed that in the Coachella Valley," Grant said.
The official start of the 2021-2022 season will be the musical 'Hairspray.' The season will also feature 'Fiddler on the Roof' playing next January and 'Jersey Boys' playing next February. You can grab your tickets by phone or online at: https://www.mccallumtheatre.com/