The show must go on, but the money must also come in.
The Pike County Little Theatre is hoping a GoFundMe page with a goal of raising $5,000 will help cover its expenses, which are mounting as the group has been unable to put on shows — and raise money through ticket sales — during the coronavirus pandemic.
The theater’s first show in months will be held this weekend. A production of “Alice in Wonderland” that was rehearsed in January and planned for the spring will take place this weekend at the State Theater — with social distancing.
The cast is a group of children, and the show is open only to their immediate family on Friday night. The show continues 2:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Saturday and Monday and 2:30 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $10.
Tickets are available by calling director Debbie Watkins at (601) 341-1652.
“We were scheduled to do ‘Alice in Wonderland’ in April and they started rehearsing for it early,” theater board member Jennifer Temple said. “The director decided that she wanted to move forward with it so they are doing the show. They are doing the kids show with a Friday night show, which is parents only and closed to the public. She is going to go in and do social distancing with six feet separating and she thinks they will be OK.”
While the ticket sales will be welcome, the theater group has a lot of other financial issues.
“We had enough money to start out the year and we have been paying the light bill and the water bill and the gas bill and all of that, and we don’t have anything coming in,” Little Theatre president Marty Thweatt said.
The financial struggles involve more than the monthly bills.
“We have a loan out where we fixed our roof, so we have to pay on that and the air conditioner, we have loans that we are paying back,” Temple said.
And then there’s the cost of putting on a show. The theater has to buy the rights for a production and makes its money back through tickets, concessions and donations.
“We’ve already postponed our fall shows, we’ve postponed our summer musical, two shows that we have already paid for the rights so that we can advertise it, but now we won’t have those shows,” Temple said. “We put the money out to have them, but we won’t have them until 2021.
Two productions, “Disaster the Musical” and “The Outsiders,” have been postponed to 2021.
“You have to pay thousands of dollars for the rights, just to put them on. And if you want to advertise your season, you have to pay it ahead of time,” Temple said.
The troupe typically holds its productions at the small Depot Theater on State Street, just down the block from the larger State Theater.
“We pay for this building, which is 70 seats, which is why we can’t social distance in here,” Temple said of the Depot Theater. “If we can only have 50 people in here and there’s 20 people in the cast, then that allows only 30 people to watch the show, then we will never break even on the rights.”
One solution is to move to the larger State Theater next door or to another larger venue, but that would require more money to rent it.
While theater organizers are disappointed, they’ll continue to keep trying to put on shows.
“It is pretty heartbreaking. This is something that we personally love to do,” Thweatt said. “We try to bring theater and life to the community and you’ve got your set group of people that like to come out. And it is sad that we can’t do that right now.”