Cape Coral theater shuts down another play after actor exposed to COVID-19 at school

Cultural Park Theater has canceled its latest play after one of the show’s…

Cape Coral theater shuts down another play after actor exposed to COVID-19 at school
Cape Coral theater shuts down another play after actor exposed to COVID-19 at school 1

Charles Runnells
 
| Fort Myers News-Press

Cultural Park Theater has canceled the closing weekend of its latest play, “Little Shop of Horrors,” after one of the show’s actors was exposed to COVID-19 at school.

It’s the second time the Cape Coral theater has shut down a production in two months. The entire run of its November show, “The Importance of Being Earnest,” was canceled after one of its creative team was potentially exposed to COVID-19.

The community theater’s executive director, Michael Moran, says he’s not taking any chances.

“Because the show starts Thursday, I can’t get everybody tested and up by Thursday,” Moran says. “It’s an overabundance of caution, but that’s the only way I’ve been able to keep it out of here.”

More: Cape Coral theater shuts down ‘Earnest’ after possible COVID-19 exposure

Cultural Park Theater has had a strict COVID-19 policy during the pandemic, including temperature checks at the door, face masks required and socially distanced seating. Only 55 seats out of the usual 200 seats are sold.

“I just don’t want it around me, you know,” Moran says. “I have to worry about all of the actors, and I have to worry about audiences. And it’s the only way I haven’t had to lock Cultural Park back down.

“I’m able to keep our classes going, I’m able to keep the other things going, because we’re so strict. … It’s a pain, but it’s what it is.”

More: Rescheduled concerts, canceled events in Fort Myers, Naples

The community theater announced the cancelation Wednesday afternoon on Facebook. “Little Shop” opened last week and was expected to run through Sunday.

The weekend’s shows were all sold out, Moran says. He’s hoping to reschedule them.

Moran says he doesn’t know which school the student attended or when the student was exposed. He said the student’s parent called him earlier this week and said the student had been sent home from school after being exposed to someone with COVID-19.

Moran declined to give the student’s gender or other identifying information, citing privacy concerns.

So far, the student has taken one COVID-19 test and gotten a negative result, Moran says. But that’s not enough for him.

“I’m beyond just a negative test,” he says. “I’m really one of those people that goes, ‘OK, you got exposed to it. You’re negative today, but will you be negative next week?'”

Moran admits that closing an entire weekend’s worth of shows will hurt the theater’s bottom line. “It’s bad, financially,” he says. “Now, on top of the royalties we’ve paid, I’ve got to refund all that money (for tickets).”

The theater might have to cancel this season’s big musical, “Jekyll & Hyde,” an expensive production that they already knew probably wouldn’t turn a profit. Now Moran says he’s not sure they can afford to stage it.

A decision to cancel, however, would be made by the theater’s board of directors, he says.

For more information, call 772-5862 or visit culturalparktheater.com.

Connect with this reporter: Call 239-335-0368 or email crunnells@gannett.com. Or connect on social media at Charles Runnells (Facebook), @charlesrunnells (Twitter) and @crunnells1 (Instagram).

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