Larger audiences expected for Music Theatre West shows

The musical review "The Taffetas" will be performed in repertory with "Forever Plaid" at the Ellen Eccles Theatre starting Friday.

LOGAN – Tickets for the upcoming repertory performances of “Forever Plaid” and “The Taffetas” by Music Theatre West (MTW) are selling well, but good seating is still available for those shows at the Ellen Eccles Theatre.

“Ticket sales for ‘Forever Plaid’ and ‘The Taffetas’ are the strongest we’ve seen in months,” said Wendi Hassan, the artistic director of the Cache Valley Center for the Arts. “It is so wonderful to have shows on sale again and to hear from patrons we have missed so much.”

The small cast musicals will be staged on alternating evenings starting Friday through Sept. 26, with matinee performances of “Forever Plaid” and “The Taffetas” set for Sept. 19 and Sept. 26 respectively.

The cast of “Forever Plaid” is looking forward to an “excited crowd” on opening night, according Celeste Baillio, the business manager of MTW.

Despite the necessary health precautions due to the coronavirus, there will be plenty of opportunity for local theater-lovers to see the MTW repertory shows, Hassan explains. Not only will each show be staged five times, but current state guidelines will allow more tickets to be sold for each performance.

Under the state’s COVID-19 response plan, a theater could technically comply with a Yellow/Low threat level and still fill every seat in its house, provided that every patron wore a face covering at all times.

“Luckily, none of the performing arts companies that we’ve got coming up are confortable with that idea and we’re very grateful to them for that,” Hassan laughs. “We just don’t think that our audiences are ready for that.

“But we have allowed our resident companies who know their audiences and understand their pandemic risks to determine their own seating maps as long as they keep to the precautionary guidelines from the state.”

During the recent Random Acts Community Performance Series, for example, ticket holders were guaranteed a radius of six empty seats in all directions around them as a precaution against the spread of COVID-19. By that standard, as few as 100 ticket groups was a sell-out crowd on the main floor of the Ellen Eccles Theatre.

But some of the upcoming shows at the Eccles Theatre are not financially feasible with such limited audiences.

MTW has instead opted to put two seats between each ticket party, but intend to sell tickets in every row of the theater, including its heretofore closed balcony.

Under that seating plan, Hassan estimates that the theater’s capacity will be about 600 patrons with moderate spacing.

“It will be very interesting to see how that goes,” Hassan admits. “We’ve had people tell us that we’re moving too fast. And, of course, other people think that we’re moving too slow.

“We anticipated that kind of reaction. Our goal is to do whatever we can with the limitations that we have and be ready to deal with our audiences when they are ready to return.”

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