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Coronavirus canceled almost all shows in Los Angeles, but this one is still a go

Marykathryn Kopp, Hannah Mae Sturges, Hallie Griffin and Kaitlin Paige Longoria in "Hitler's Tasters."
Marykathryn Kopp, Hannah Mae Sturges, Hallie Griffin and Kaitlin Paige Longoria star in “Hitler’s Tasters,” one of the few shows continuing on amid coronavirus cancellations.
(Zach Griffin)

Nearly every performing arts company in the Los Angeles area has canceled shows due to the coronavirus.

Who is still forging ahead with their performances? And how?

Playwright Michelle Kholos Brooks’ dark comedy “Hitler’s Tasters” had its second preview at the Electric Lodge in Venice on Friday night before its official opening Saturday. The New Light Theater Project production — which premieres in L.A. after runs in New York and at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe — was originally scheduled to play through March 30. A producer said “Hitler’s Tasters” is proceeding one weekend at a time with some precautionary measures in place.

“Yesterday was crazy, I felt like I was getting emails every 15 minutes from another theater announcing that they were just canceling everything,” producer Mike Blaha said Friday.

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Electric Lodge had instituted extra cleaning procedures, but the box office had begun receiving a few refund requests.

“It’s one thing to tell local actors to go home because we’re not gonna go forward, but this is a cast of New York-based actors. We’ve had flights paid for, transportation, everything,” Blaha said.

“It’s not just costs — though it’d be dishonest to ignore that — but they rehearsed and worked hard, and to send them home without allowing them to perform would be very difficult.”

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“Hitler’s Tasters” has capped its audience at 50 people so that attendees can follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommendations for “social distancing.”

On Thursday evening, about two dozen ticketholders — spaced across the venue — attended the first preview.

“From a creative standpoint, it was well-received and fantastic, we couldn’t be happier,” he said. “And everyone took it upon themselves to sit a few seats away from each other and still watch the show together. They were, I guess, self-spaced.”

Counting on individuals to practice social distancing is a strategy that some theater companies — in Chicago and off-Broadway in New York — are trying out.

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Movie theater companies such as AMC and Laemmle have also adopted the approach. Laemmle said it is “limiting seating capacity to no more than 50% of auditorium size, enabling patrons to keep an appropriate distance from other patrons who are not part of their immediate party.”

The popular Jacaranda classical music series was planning to do the same. Its “Agony & Ecstasy” concert Saturday at Santa Monica’s First Presbyterian Church was to feature pianists Inna Faliks, Steven Vanhauwaert and Mark Robson in a program featuring works by Ravel, Olivier Messiaen, Timo Andres and Billy Childs.

“We can provide the required social distancing,” artistic director Patrick Scott had said in a statement. “Our unassigned seating on very wide upholstered pews will allow couples and small social groups to have six feet of space around them.”

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Scott’s statement urged patrons to practice non-physical greetings and appropriate personal hygiene. And though refreshments wouldn’t be served, “front doors will be open at intermission for ready access to the FPC courtyard and refresh the air.”

“Music, especially the spiritually nourishing music on this program, is needed to get through a trying period of uncertainty together,” the statement said. “Please join us with awareness but without fear.”

Alas, at midday Saturday, Jacaranda sent out a message canceling the concert. “The board and staff of Jacaranda,” it said, “are humbled by the challenges that lie ahead.”

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Updates:

11:38 AM, Mar. 14, 2020: This article was updated to reflect the cancellation of the Jacaranda concert.


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