Festival Opera summer season falls to Coronavirus

LOGAN – For theater-lovers in Cache Valley, the battle with the Coronavirus is over.

The Coronavirus won.

In a heartfelt message to fans and supporters of the Utah Festival Opera & Musical Theatre, its founding managing director Michael Ballam cancelled the festival’s upcoming summer season.

“Your safety is our priority and assembling so many of you together safely presents insurmountable risks,” Ballam wrote in an April 22 post on the UFOMT website. “Therefore, out of an abundance of caution for the health and well-being of our company members and for you, our patrons, it is with the deepest and most sincere regret that we must cancel our 2020 summer season.”

The festival opera season was Cache Valley’s last theatrical program whose fate was still up in the air. The Lyric Repertory Company’s summer season was cancelled in early April. Local semi-professional companies have also curtailed their planned productions for the foreseeable future.

Ballam said that Festival Opera organizers had been working diligently and optimistically toward a festival that would have made 2020 “a summer to remember.”

The festival’s performance schedule included the Mozart opera “The Magic Flute;” the intimate musical “I Do, I Do;” Stephen Sondheim’s dark fantasy “Sweeny Todd;” and reprises of two festival favorites: “She Loves Me” and “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.”

The 2020 summer season of the Utah Festival Opera & Musical Theatre was cancelled April 22 with a heartfelt message from Michael Ballam, the festival’s founding director.

With nearly 300 performers, musicians and technicians due to arrive in Logan soon, Ballam said that it became obvious that rehearsals and performances could not be held under existing social distancing guidelines.

“After receiving the Coronavirus safety timeline from Utah Governor Gary Herbert and conversations with our health department,” Ballam explained, “it is abundantly clear that even with the best laid plans for social distancing, quarantine and sanitizing, it will be impossible to guarantee the safety of our company members as well as our patrons during this pandemic.”

Ballam’s announcement leaves the Utah Shakespeare Festival as Utah’s only statewide theatrical attraction still scheduled to perform this summer. USF organizers currently plan to mitigate the impact of the Coronavirus on their festival by slightly delaying its opening night, producing fewer shows, limiting technical challenges and implementing strategic audience seating.

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