Nine days into its first live production in nearly two years, the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre cancelled weekend shows following a single COVID-19 diagnosis among the cast and crew of Orlando.

Nine days into its first live production in nearly two years, the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre cancelled weekend shows following a single COVID-19 diagnosis among the cast and crew of Orlando.

Executive director Camilla Holland said a member of the production tested positive for COVID-19 on a rapid antigen test Thursday afternoon, which was later confirmed by a more accurate PCR test.

The company regularly screens its artists and crew, who are all fully vaccinated, for COVID-19 with rapid tests supplied by the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce and the provincial government, she said.

"We have all the protocols in place to keep people safe but ultimately we made the call to cancel this weekend’s performances," Holland told the Free Press on Sunday. "We made it for safety reasons, and we’re very, very disappointed to do so, but it’s the right thing to do."

While the company made the decision to cancel the Thursday evening performance in the wake of the positive result, the show went on Friday after all other cast members, understudy, stage management team, and dressers tested negative for the virus with PCR tests.

However, Holland said company members were understandably concerned they may unknowingly spread the virus to each other during the performances.

After consulting with an epidemiologist, Holland said they decided to also cancel shows scheduled for Saturday and Sunday.

Signs on the doors of Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre let patrons know its Orlando has been cancelled on Sunday. (SHANNON VANRAES / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

Signs on the doors of Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre let patrons know its Orlando has been cancelled on Sunday. (SHANNON VANRAES / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

"Ultimately our artists and our crew have been incredible troopers and incredibly gracious and working so hard to keep themselves and each other safe," Holland said. "Our audiences have been warm and responsive and insanely understanding about this. We just could not be doing this in a better community."

Cast and crew continue to monitor for symptoms and are taking rapid tests daily in anticipation of returning to the stage on Tuesday to complete the run of the production, which closes on Dec. 18, Holland said.

"It is a show of much action. We have artists backstage who are moving set pieces, we have artists who are coming into close contact with each other, we have people doing costume changes quickly," Holland said.

The company member who tested positive for COVID-19 was symptom free on Thursday morning and tested negative on a routine rapid test. A test taken later that afternoon after developing a "symptom of note" came back positive, Holland said.

They are recovering well at home, Holland said. No other members had tested positive for the virus as of Sunday.

Holland said the testing of company members and COVID-19 safety measures built into the production will likely mean a quick return to the stage, but acknowledged the virus could prove to be unpredictable.

"We had our fingers crossed that we would not experience this but we are heartened by the speed we were able to identify this, that we were able to secure PCR tests and move forward with confidence," Holland said.

"We’re really just crossing all fingers and toes that we have a healthy, happy company that is ready to perform and a healthy, happy audience that’s ready to receive them."

Holland said ticket holders will be contacted by the box office if their show was cancelled and they can choose to re-book, take a refund or credit, or donate the cost of their ticket to the company. Seats are available for the remainder of the run.

danielle.dasilva@freepress.mb.ca

Danielle Da Silva

Danielle Da Silva
Reporter

Danielle Da Silva is a general assignment reporter.