No plays, no movies, no concerts, no sitting shoulder to shoulder in theaters with friends and strangers. COVID-19 has done its best to steal the joy of live entertainment from us in this crunchy, scratchy, ill-fitting bad sweater of a year, but creatives, being, well creative, have found a way to keep us safely entertained. As 2020 staggers to its welcomed conclusion, there are unique ways to kick it out the door that don’t involve contact with others, save your own posse.
The entertainment industry is reeling. A recent report published by data firm Ampere Analytics revealed that the impacts of the virus will result in a $160 billion loss of growth in the next five years. The theatrical sector has taken the biggest hit with $24.4 billion reported in immediate losses. Pollstar, the live concert trade publication, reports losses of $30 billion in 2020 for that industry.
Telluride’s entertainment meccas, such as the Sheridan Opera House, have been sorely tested as entire seasons have bitten the dust. This time last year, celebrants were looking forward to the last show of 2019 in the historic and beloved venue, a sweaty dance and funk-fest with The Pimps of Joytime. By mid-March, the final note of this year had faded into the storied walls and the doors slammed shut. But take heart! The opera house has booked a special, livestream event with actor-musician Jeff Daniels for Jan. 8 at 7 p.m. Tickets are $20 for individuals and $30 for groups, and are available at sheridanoperahouse.com.
Daniels, the star of “Dumb and Dumber,” “Speed” and “The Newsroom,” will perform from his home and be available for a post-show Q&A. By supporting this event, viewers will help the opera house survive until it can reopen to its diverse programming sometime in 2021. The Sheridan Arts Foundation relies on not only its live music concerts, theatrical productions and event rentals to sustain the historic structure, but in 2020 saw its major fundraisers like Telluride Plein Air and Wild West Fest either vastly altered or outright canceled.
Telluride Theatre has also had to do some pivoting in the time of COVID. While this summer’s Shakespeare in the Park had a whole different look and feel, the nonprofit worked closely with San Miguel County Public Health officials to make a socially distanced performance of “As You Like It” happen. The theater company pushed its creativity further by switching up what would have been a live holiday performance in the opera house to a movie extravaganza that aired Dec. 19-24. In response to high demand, Telluride Theatre is now offering holiday cheer on-demand through Jan. 1.
In “Home for the Holidays,” audiences can expect a fun-packed variety show filled with holiday cheer and hilariousness, hosted by Sasha and Colin Sullivan, in the same light as classic holiday specials hosted by Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra,or Sonny and Cher.
“We know the holiday spirit doesn’t end after Dec. 25 so we wanted to offer our community the option to watch the show on-demand through the end of the year,” said Sasha Sullivan, creative director for Telluride Theatre, as well as director, playwright and host of “Home for the Holidays.”
The show aims to provide some comic relief and holiday cheer to anyone who lives in or just simply loves Telluride.
“We wrote it for Telluride. It is a holiday show for our community and anyone who loves to come here or used to live here,” Sullivan said. “It is the essence of an old school holiday special, coupled with SNL, and some Telluride Theatre magic thrown in.”
Tickets are $20 for one viewer, $35 for two viewers, $55 for a pod party of three or more viewers, and are available at telluridetheatre.org.
The company also managed to pull off a successful gala in July, a major fundraiser that, like Shakespeare in the Park, takes advantage of summer weather. But the virus felled its wildly popular and lucrative Burlesque shows at the opera house in March.
According to a Dec. 3 story by the Associated Press, live theater in enclosed venues has taken a body blow. From that story: “Live theater is uniquely tested by the virus, one reason it will be among the last sectors to return to normal. Props and costumes are usually touched by dozens each night, an orchestra is crammed into a pit, backstage areas are small and shared, and audiences are usually packed into seats. New ways are needed.”
Telluride Theatre’s inventiveness drew praise and gratitude, according to a recent news release.
“All I can say is thank you,” one viewer shared. “Theatre has been a part of all my holidays, except this year. I don’t get to see my family and I am so sad. But tonight’s show was exactly what I needed. My girlfriend and I loved every moment. Thank you so much. You crushed. All gratitude.”
Musicians are struggling, too. To that end, Christ Presbyterian Church is hosting a holiday music series with different, local musicians each night through Thursday. Donations to the virtual tip jar will go directly to the musicians. Treat yourself and support local musicians at christchurchtelluride.com/holidaymusic.
The best thing about 2020 is that it’s almost over. There is a vaccine and a moment on the horizon when we’ll be dancing to our favorite bands, giving local actors a standing ovation and tucking into a fresh bag of popcorn for a movie on the big screen. We can ensure that happening by supporting the arts we love right now, pandemic be damned.