ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT
Davidson Community Players: An Historic Decision to Cancel its 2020 Summer Season due to COVID-19 Restrictions
For the first time in its fifty-five year history, Davidson Community Players will not produce theater on the campus of Davidson College this summer. With regret but resolve, the Davidson Community Players Board of Directors voted unanimously at its May meeting to cancel its summer productions, Sister Act the musical, and comedy Present Laughter by Noel Coward. Both shows were slated to perform at the Duke Family Performance Hall at Davidson College.
DCP Executive Director Matt Merrell expressed that the uncertain availability of venues, as well as the challenge of mounting productions
that respect social distancing and sanitizing guidelines for audience, actors, and the production team, made clear the choice to cancel the summer season. He added that DCP is also canceling its summer youth programs and furloughing most of the non-profit’s staff for the summer.
“We are disappointed for sure, but looking ahead, we hope to resume our productions at the Armour Street Theater in the fall” said board chair Cat Rutledge. “While the pandemic has unquestionably damaged our financial status, the company will go on. We are reaching out to patrons and season sponsors via email regarding options for refunds, credits, or donations with regard to their support for this summer’s season,” added Rutledge.
DCP joins theaters across the globe that have gone dark due to the threat of COVID-19, including local companies like CPCC and Children’s Theater that produce shows in the summer.
“Like Broadway, we hope to turn the lights back on in September,” Merrell said, “but we will be making those decisions down the line, according to CDC and state and local guidelines.”
Since its first production in 1965, Time of Harvest, DCP has brought theater to our region every summer for 54 years — and expanded to a year-long season in 2010. The rich history of the award-winning company, documented on the DCP website reflects the growth and change in the Lake Norman region over that half-century, including performances and volunteer work by community members ranging from Davidson College presidents to lawyers, teachers, merchants, realtors, and cabinet makers. Over the years, the Players have produced the work of many leading playwrights, including Anton Chekov, Tennessee Williams, Harold Pinter, Neil Simon, Edward Albee, and Rodgers and Hammerstein, among others.
The Thornton Wilder American classic, Our Town, has been staged twice. Don Kimmel, Davidson College emeritus biology professor, was in both productions, playing Doc Gibbs in 1971 and the Stage Manager in 1987.
“We never imagined in the early days what a force this company would become, and how lucky we were to have both the cultural and performance opportunities over the years,” Kimmel said. “It’s quite a story.”
Davidson Community Players’ 55th season adds to this story, as the first ever to be cancelled. Other firsts have been good news, like the first musical, The Music Man in 1991, and the creation of a children’s theater group, the Connie Company, in 1996.
Season and individual ticket holders can visit the DCP website for refund and donation information, including contribution to the company’s Encore Fund that will be matched by funds from an anonymous donor.