UPDATE: All future performances of this season’s “A Christmas Carol” have been canceled, the Center Theatre Group announced on Dec. 21.
“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 and CEO Meghan Pressman said in a statement. “That makes it all the more heartbreaking to cancel these remaining performances.”
Ticketholders for canceled performances will receive refunds or credits at the original point of purchase.
Welcome to the new COVID normal.
About 30 minutes after Thursday night’s performance of “A Christmas Carol,” starring Bradley Whitford, Alex Newell and Kate Burton, at Los Angeles’ Ahmanson Theatre was to begin, the audience was told to go home.
“The voice of God came on and said there was a case of COVID in the company so they had to cancel the show,” one theater-goer, who asked that his name not be used in this story, tells me.
This person said that he and his friend felt like the night wasn’t going as planned when the show still hadn’t started by 8:15 p.m. “It was weird because there was no announcement,” he said. “My friend looked at me and said, ‘Something must be wrong.’”
They didn’t think it had anything to do with the pandemic because the theater was following strict protocols. Ticket holders had to show proof of full vaccination and a photo ID. While bars were open, people were directed to drink and eat outside.
The theater-goer and his friend were seated in an orchestra-level seat. The auditorium seats about 2,000 people. “It looked like the theater was 95 percent full and everyone had to wear masks,” he said. “When they announced the show was canceled there was like a collective, ‘Ohh.’ The place cleared out pretty quickly, but no one seemed upset.”
Thursday’s audiences members were told refunds or tickets for another night were being offered. Parking costs for those who parked in the theater’s garage would also be covered.
About an hour after the theater was emptied, the Center Theatre Group sent out a press release and posted a statement on its website with the disappointing news.
“Despite robust measures being in place, breakthrough COVID-19 cases have been detected within the company of ‘A Christmas Carol,’ the statement reads. “For the wellness and safety of our guests, cast and crew, tonight’s performance at the Ahmanson was canceled.”
The Friday night and Saturday matinee performances were also canceled.
Whitford offered a statement on Twitter after the cancellations were announced. “We are heartbroken. I love this production and everyone in it.”
We are heartbroken. I love this production and everyone in it. Grateful we will be back for a final week. Our hearts will be full. https://t.co/dXemMiROJQ
— Bradley Whitford (@BradleyWhitford) December 18, 2021
“A Christmas Carol,” which opened Dec. 2 and is set to close Jan. 1, is the first show to be performed at the Ahmanson in almost two years.
Broadway’s “Moulin Rouge!” also canceled its Thursday night performance after its audience was seated.