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Great American Melodrama unable to offer popular Christmas shows this year

Posted at 6:50 PM, Oct 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-24 01:50:34-04

The show headline "Sherlock Holmes and the Sign of Four" is still up on the Great American Melodrama's marquee, but it was the last show they did in March.

This is the time of year the Great American Melodrama in Oceano would be rehearsing for their popular Christmas shows, but the pandemic forced the cast into an indefinite intermission.

Currently, all employees are laid off and waiting to return back to the stage.

All they can do right now is wait for guidance from state and county leaders. Right now, the artistic director says there aren’t any reopening guidelines for the entertainment industry.

Employees prepared to re-open in July, spending tens of thousands of dollars on production, advertisements and COVID-19 sanitization.

“We took a risk and wrote a show, sensibly kind of about COVID, about the epidemic to take people's minds off of it,” said Dan Schultz, Artistic Director at the Great American Melodrama. “We hired five actors, a stage manager, musicians and we put together a show and we rehearsed it socially distant."

However, those plans were canceled when cases started to surge in San Luis Obispo County.

With the way things are looking now, Schultz says the popular Christmas show that more than 14,000 people saw last year isn't going to happen.

“The thing that the pandemic has robbed us of is human interaction and the thing that theater gives you is empathy,” Schultz said. “You get to walk a mile in someone's shoes or share a laugh with someone sitting next to you and realize that you do have a shared humanity."

He hopes to unify people again at their theater off Front Street soon and bring jobs back to the community.

The cast needs just a couple of weeks of rehearsal to get a show ready, but they will only start that process if given specific guidelines from public health officials.

Schultz says business is holding on, but it's challenging to plan performances when there is still uncertainty about when they'll come back and what that will look like.