BELLPORT

Finally! On with the show

The Gateway will start 2021 season in June

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Monday night meant more callbacks for “A Chorus Line - High School Edition.”

“We’ll have chosen actors by the end of the week,” said Gateway executive artistic director Paul Allan. “It’s being directed and choreographed by Mitzi Hamilton, the original Val on Broadway. She’s directed the show hundreds of times.” 

The professionally directed show with a cast of 21 and full Broadway set, will play starting June 19 to July 3 on The Gateway’s stage, a warmup to its season, which was just announced to season ticket holders.

Then it’s July 14-31 with “Songs for A New World,” by Jason Robert Brown, who wrote the Tony Award-winning “Bridges of Madison County”; Aug. 4-21 is “Million Dollar Quartet”; Aug. 25-Sept. 11 is “Newsies” at Patchogue Theatre for the Performing Arts; Nov. 17-Dec. 4, “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder,” with director Peggy Hickey, who oversaw the smash hit on Broadway; Dec. 17-Jan. 1 is “Holiday Spectacular on Ice.”

It’s been a long haul for The Gateway, who kept their name out there through family drive-in movies, including a live telecast from Las Vegas on New Year’s Eve with noisemakers and hats (they’re continuing the movies this year), as well as an inventive haunted woods drive “The Forgotten Road” in a county park last fall, and a shorter outside haunted walk-through on its grounds with Woofie, the beast wolf, lunging out from a turn, as well as monsters popping out. 

“We’ll have social distancing; also required will be proof of a negative COVID test or vaccination and masks,” Allan said.

The downtime has enabled the Bellport theater to check HVAC systems and improve airflow, upgrade an air filtration system to MERV 13, which is a highly effective system that captures harmful airborne viruses, as well as frequent cleaning and sanitizing, which will continue between shows. Masks will still be required from the audience.

“We have to follow rules from our actor and musician unions,” Allan said. 

Allan said overhauls on the theater, including lighting, sound and electrical upgrades, were started in February. 

Full-time staff kept at it once a week. “In March, it was two or three days. And now in May, they all returned full time. Several of our box office staff are back,” he said.

“We’re still hoping for funds from the Shuttered Venue Operator’s Grant,” Allan said. “The latest we heard is that we could be getting funds in late June. It’s based on your loss for 2020-21. We took out payroll protection loans, which have been partially forgiven, but we still have debts and a lot would go back to paying them. The main thing is it should help us get back on our feet.” For more information, visit thegateway.org. 

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