Valley Performing Arts

The Valley Performing Arts Center recently announced that they had to cancel the first show of the season, originally scheduled to open Nov. 27, due to the increase in cases of COVID-19.

WASILLA — The Valley Performing Arts Center recently announced that they had to cancel the first show of the season, originally scheduled to open Nov. 27, due to the increase in cases of COVID-19.

VPA Executive Director Garry Forrester said it was a tough decision for the board to make, but they felt it necessary to ensure the public’s safety.

“The cases were rising so much that the board felt it was prudent to cancel the first show,” Forrester said.

Forrester said they also had a recent grant from the city of Wasilla that would’ve aided their efforts in sanitization, and they already had social distancing protocols in place. He said VPA members were already rehearsing for their season debut, set to perform a local adaption of “Every Christmas Story Ever Told (and Then Some!)”

All of the following shows have also been postponed until further notice, according to Forrester. He said that he doesn’t know when they will be able to put on a show in front of a live audience again, but it’s likely going to take a few months at the very least.

Forrester said VPA is currently working with people who purchased tickets, offering the option to take a refund or turn it into a donation. He said a great number of people opted to donate. He noted that when they had to cancel their rendition of “Noises Off” at the Glenn Massay Theater in March, 95 percent of the ticket holders turned their tickets into donations.

“It speaks pretty well of us and our history, and the people who support us, when they’re willing to make those determinations to help us out,” Forrester said.

The cast for the second play of the season, Shakespeare’s “The Comedy of Errors” was also in rehearsals before the closure. Forrester said it’s been a “heartbreaking” experience for everyone at VPA.

“We had everything in place... and people were excited,” Forrester said. “While people understood why the show had to be cancelled, it’s still a little bit heartbreaking for the people who have put some much in so much effort… and not be able to share it with people.”

Forrester said a VPA committee is meeting next week to plan options for alternative ways to engage the public in the meantime. He said they’re looking at possibilities like holding live streamed or radio performances, perhaps even an outdoor show akin to “Shakespeare in the Park.”

When your organization relies on people gathering together to do what you do, it makes it tough.

“We’re kind of in a rebuilding, reevaluating stage right now… It’s just difficult with COVID. We want to remain engaged with the people who support us but we want to do it safely,” Forrester said. “I’m confident when the dust settles... We’ll bounce back when we feel it’s safe to do so… We’ve been here 45 years and we’re planning to stay here another 45. Stay tuned, and most importantly, stay safe. We’re gonna be back.”

For more information, call 907-373-0195 or visit valleyperformingarts.org.

Contact Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman reporter Jacob Mann at jacob.mann@frontiersman.com

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