Closed by coronavirus, Madison's performing arts adapt

Posted April 29, 2020

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Lindsay Christians, The Capital Times, April 29th, 2020.

It was the final dress rehearsal, and cast and crew were abuzz backstage at the Capitol Theater. Laetitia Holland, the 16-year-old McFarland teen playing Peter Pan, readied herself to fly into the Darling family nursery. This audience was small for the 1,089-seat theater — just 250 friends and family — but the excitement was palpable.

Before the curtain rose, Roseann Sheridan, Children’s Theater of Madison’s artistic director, called her cast together. This night, Friday, March 13, was supposed to be the first full performance of many. Instead, it would be the only one. 

“Everybody stood in the wings and watched the entire show,” said Marcus Truschinski, who played Captain Hook. In the audience, “they were applauding entrances and exits. Every time Laetitia and the kids would fly, they’d applaud.

“I was in tears the whole time, both from joy and the sadness of watching these kids perform,” Truschinski said. “They knew it was this fleeting thing. It was maybe the most magical experience of my theater career.”

The decision to cancel “Peter Pan’s” seven-show run wasn’t really hers, Sheridan said later. In the days leading up to the opening, spread of the coronavirus led Gov. Tony Evers to declare a public health emergency. Earlier in the day, Overture Center announced it would cancel the rest of the run of the musical “Wicked,” which opened March 11 in Overture Hall.

“When it moved from being a choice to a necessity, it was a little bit of a relief, in a way,” Sheridan said. “It wasn’t like, ‘Did I do the right thing?’”

Nationally, Americans for the Arts estimates the economic impact on arts of COVID-19 to date is about $4.8 billion. In Wisconsin, 219 arts and culture-related organizations surveyed reported a collective loss of about $6.8 million, about $900,000 in Dane County alone. Arts and culture generate $250 million annually in Dane County, according to the most recent Arts & Economic Prosperity numbers (from 2015).

Read the full article here.