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The Ahmanson cancels the remainder of ‘A Christmas Carol’ run due to COVID concerns

The Ghost of Christmas Past and Ebenezer Scrooge in "A Christmas Carol."
Kate Burton and Bradley Whitford in “A Christmas Carol” at the Ahmanson Theatre. Center Theatre Group canceled the remainder of the show‘s run after detecting breakthrough COVID-19 infections within the company.
(Joan Marcus)
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Center Theatre Group has canceled the remainder of its run of “A Christmas Carol” at the Ahmanson Theatre due to heightened concerns about COVID-19. In a press release, the company cited “the uncertainty of our ability to continue with performances and out of concern for the well-being of the cast, crew and audiences” as its reasons for shuttering.

“It was a cause for celebration when, for the first time in more than 20 months, we were finally able to return to live performances at the Ahmanson Theatre with this spectacular production of ‘A Christmas Carol,’” said Center Theatre Group Managing Director/CEO Meghan Pressman in an email. “That makes it all the more heartbreaking to cancel these remaining performances.”

Last Thursday night, audience members sat inside the Ahmanson, waiting for the curtain to rise for “A Christmas Carol.” Suddenly, an announcement came: The evening’s performance had been canceled after breakthrough COVID-19 infections were detected within the company.

A representative for CTG said the late notice was because confirmation of the positive tests was not received until after curtain time. “We never want to cancel a performance, but the safety of the audience, performers and staff must be top priority,” said Pressman in an email.

Initially, the company had canceled last Friday night’s performance and Saturday’s matinee as well but expected all other performances to continue as planned. The company later extended the closures through Dec. 28. “A Christmas Carol” opened on Nov. 30 and marked CTG’s return to live performances after 20 months of pandemic darkness.

The news comes on the heels of a spate of cancellations on Broadway, in New York City, where the virus’ highly transmissible Omicron variant is spreading rapidly. As of this week, performances of the jukebox musical “Tina” had been canceled, along with various others including “Hamilton,” “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child,” “Mrs. Doubtfire” and “Ain’t Too Proud.”

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Like most live performance groups, CTG has implemented plenty of precautions, including requiring vaccinations for cast, crew and audiences. Cast and crew are also frequently tested for the virus. But as infections rise across the country, more breakthrough infections are becoming possible. The situation is complicated by the arrival of Omicron, which has proved an artful dodger of vaccines, leaving public health officials warning that a booster shot is necessary to blunt the disease’s worst effects.

Last week, in response to the growing public health consensus around the necessity of booster shots, New York’s Metropolitan Opera became the first major arts organization to announce it would require boosters for all eligible employees and audience members beginning Jan. 17. CTG has not yet implemented a policy regarding boosters.

“We are continuing to monitor the city, county and state recommendations and are keeping an eye on that development,” said Pressman of booster shots.

CTG’s “A Christmas Carol” is a reinterpretation of the Dickens holiday classic by playwright Jack Thorne and director Matthew Warchus. It starred Bradley Whitford as Ebenezer Scrooge and Kate Burton as the Ghost of Christmas Past. Ticket holders for canceled shows are being reimbursed or offered credits.

Updates

4:05 p.m. Dec. 21, 2021: This article has been updated with the cancellation of the show’s run.


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