Live performances in Calgary canceled due to rise in Omicron cases

Due to rising cases of the Omicron variant of COVID-19, a handful of live shows in Calgary have temporarily closed the curtain on shows.

Many theaters went to great lengths to provide a safe space for audiences and performers, but given the spread of the virus, tough decisions had to be made.

A Yellow Rabbit’s High Performance Rodeo (HPR) is canceled this year. Producer Oliver Armstrong said the festival was set to start on January 18 and take place at a number of different venues involving nearly 80 performers.

“We worked hard for 12 months, it’s tough,” Armstrong said.

“We expected the unexpected, but even it feels shocking and strange to make the announcement that we cannot hold public events this month,” Armstrong said.

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“It’s a very bad time and we’re looking at options to show delayed versions of some of our work.”

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Without being able to provide the full experience and audience engagement of HPR, they made the difficult decision. Ticket holders can wait to hear rescheduled performance dates, but refunds are also available.

“Inherently, we rabbits are enthusiastic, optimistic, and that hasn’t changed,” Armstrong said. “If we can’t present the fun, engaging, in-person festival experience, we couldn’t present High Performance Rodeo in 2022.”

A Yellow Rabbit theater space in Calgary, Alberta.

Jill Croteau/Global News

Artists like Peter Moller agree, saying it’s safe to take a break and look forward to returning to the spotlight.

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“Maybe we forgot what it feels like in public and just a general lift, so we’re happy to wait and find the right moment,” Moller said.

“Because what we want to do is add levity to people’s lives, we’re going to need it.”

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The Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra has also canceled its two January performances.

Chinese classical pianist Yuja Wang was scheduled to perform on January 15 and 16, and concertmaster Diana Cohen was scheduled to perform Mozart on January 21 and 22.

The orchestra is working to reschedule these concerts and plans to resume its winter series with I’m getting up February 5. Chairman and CEO Marc Stevens said it was not an easy decision.

The lobby of the Jack Singer Concert Hall in Calgary, Alberta.

Jill Croteau/Global News

Despite the distancing and a number of other safety measures, Stevens said they had to cancel due to rising COVID cases and travel complications for featured artists.

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“Our players, they live to perform and be side by side, to perform in front of the public – and our public really wants to be here,” Stevens said.

“For sure people missed being side by side, as safe as possible, because it’s not just about listening to a performance, it’s about feeling the people around you.”

Other venues like the Vertigo Theater continue their shows. Evelyn Goj, director of marketing and communications, said her team is closely monitoring the COVID situation in the city and is planning to open the next production of Encrypt the Saturday.

“The enhanced safety measures implemented by Vertigo in November are still in place, such as mandatory masks and customers eligible to receive the vaccine are fully vaccinated. On top of that, we will reduce capacity by 25% for the time being,” Goj said.

The Pumphouse Theater has upcoming performances scheduled to begin in late January and early February. Sabrina Mueller, head of production and operations at Pumphouse, said safety measures were in place.

“We are fortunate to be able to have more flexibility to accommodate small audiences and social distancing than many other venues in Calgary, should our patrons choose to hold performances at this time,” Mueller said.

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Anastasia Broadway production postponed for a year

Other larger productions were also affected. Broadway Across Canada’s touring production of Anastasia has been postponed to next year.

The musical was originally scheduled to take place at the Southern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium in Calgary from January 4-9 and at the Northern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium in Edmonton from January 11-16.

“While we are of course disappointed that Anastasia was unable to open in Calgary and Edmonton this month as planned, the well-being of our customers, artists, staff and the global community remains our top priority. We look forward to seeing each other in the theater very soon,” said Shana Levin, vice-president of Broadway Across Canada.

The new dates of Anastasia are now in Edmonton from February 21 to 26, 2023 and in Calgary from February 28 to March 5, 2023.

Broadway Across Canada said current ticket holders who cannot accept the new dates should contact their original point of purchase.

The theater organization says its long-awaited return to Alberta will take place this summer, when hamilton begins performances in Edmonton from June 21 to July 10 and in Calgary from July 12 to 31.

The theater marquee for ‘Anastasia’ at the Broadhurst Theater on November 29, 2018 in New York City.

Walter McBride/Getty Images

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Kenneth T. Shippee