The top-notch summer musicals The Gateway is known for won’t grace the stage this year, but they will in 2021.
The same lineup pitched for the season, “Evita,” “Next to Normal,” “Matilda: The Musical,” “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder” as well as “Newsies” will take place next July and August. But still on track for this August are the tribute concerts, The Allman Brothers Band (Aug. 21), Elton John (Aug. 23), the Eagles (Aug. 28), and Paul McCartney (Sept. 5 & 6). The Holiday Spectacular on Ice show at the Patchogue Theatre (Dec. 18 to Jan 2, 2021) is still planned.
Executive Artistic Director Paul Allan announced the decision this week in a video on The Gateway website and its YouTube channel. He spoke to the Advance at length about the non-profit’s decision and its push to raise $100,000, that includes a matching $50,000 grant, whose aim is to keep its operation running.
“We’ve been watching every day keeping track of the corona virus progress and tried to remain optimistic,” he said of the season’s first push back to June, then July. “But it became clear in the news and in other countries that to provide full scale musicals and open in July wouldn’t be possible.”
Allan was asked if the tribute concerts could be brought to Patchogue Theatre; that theatre is bigger with 1,100 seats, it was pointed out.
“We’re still planning on having them here in Bellport but Patchogue could be an alternative,” he said. “We don’t know what the spacing guidelines would be as yet and then there’s what to do with a crowded lobby and rest room lines.”
Patchogue mayor Paul Pontieri said he would welcome the concerts.
“We’ve been in conversations about how the two entities can work together in a manner that’s best for The Gateway and Patchogue Theatre,” Pontieri said. “We’ve been partners for 20 years, why should we stop now?
The immediate fundraiser for $100,000 would be a lifeline for the theatre and Allan discussed some of the essentials.
“What people don’t realize is that we still have year-round maintenance and staff we have to pay,” he said. “Our box office is still open. Then you have accounting, and a legal team for contracts. We have equipment loans and leases that are ongoing. Our taxes and insurance alone will take a good chunk.
“Everyone is on reduced days and our full-time staff is down to 12.”
The Gateway School for the Performing Arts is still operating, he said with Acting School Director and Associate Artistic Director Michael Baker, assistant Rachel Colson and two part-time teachers.
“We’re about to roll out a virtual acting class based on what we’ve developed over the last four or five weeks.” Allan said. “It’s ten kids in each class so when you do Zoom everyone does get attention.”
While The Gateway has 75 sets available for rental, that financial option has taken a big hit as well. “The set manager is working one day a week on cancellations, the earliest show using one is taking place October,” he said. “A lot of the high schools and theatres have moved their productions to next summer and planning for loading in, loading out, set ups have to be done before. Details include our technician who needs to go out to the site and we also provide trucking. A local school would pay from $4,000-to-$5,000. The bigger sets could bring in $15,000.”