George Bailey will still get help from his guardian angel in a Rochester Civic Theatre production of “It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play.”
The production is being recorded and streamed Dec. 18, 19 and 20.
Clarence will still get his wings, and George will still realize the good a man does has far-reaching effects, while people stay home to do a bit of good themselves by helping to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
A statewide order closing theaters, restaurants and bars that went into effect last week to help slow the spread eliminated the possibility of live-audience performances of the show. However, Civic leaders were already inclined to move the show virtually as case counts of the virus spiked.
“We chose all of our shows for this season based in part on the ability to stream them if we needed to,” said Misha Johnson, interim managing director at the Rochester Civic Theatre.
A grant from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act gave the Civic funds to hire Northern Sun Productions to produce the show for streaming.
Unfortunately, a planned production of “A Christmas Carol” by Rochester Repertory Theatre is as dead as poor Jacob Marley.
That decision was also made before statewide restrictions on gatherings were announced, said Sue Schnell, managing director of the Rochester Rep.
A planned Rep production of “Lucy,” scheduled to open in January, will also likely be canceled, she added, while plans for other upcoming productions are being discussed.
“We don't really know what that looks like yet,” she said. “But we know how important arts and entertainment are to the community in normal times, and in these times, they become even more critical.”
Commonweal Theatre also canceled its planned production of “A Christmas Carol” due to the pandemic. Instead, the company will present a pre-recorded streaming performance of an original holiday radio play, “A Driftless Christmas.” That will be available on the Commonweal website Dec. 4 through Jan. 4.
The production features music, skits and stories.
“We put our heads together and asked, ‘What do people want for a holiday production?' ” said Jeremy van Meter, communications manager for Commonweal.
Next season’s Commonweal shows were chosen to have smaller cast sizes to accommodate either streaming performances or safe live performances, depending on the status of the ongoing pandemic.
The season finale will be “A Christmas Carol,” van Meter said.