Cailloux City Center in ‘holding pattern,’ but is still holding on

Rehearsals continue for “King Lear” and “Little Shop of Horrors” and the productions will be presented when conditions allow.

As managers of the large and usually very active Kathleen C. Cailloux City Center for the Performing Arts, Playhouse 2000 finds itself in a "holding pattern" during this time of "social distancing."

The group is confident, though, that they can hold on through the Covid-19 crisis, and come back to serve the community when the time is right.

"The things we present to the public all have long planning windows," said Jeffrey Brown, Playhouse 2000's executive director. "We usually know about a year in advance what to be working toward in any given week, and rehearsals for local productions last about six weeks."

"Right now, because there's no good way to know how soon we'll be able to re-open the doors, we find ourselves making and re-making plans every week in the hopes that someday, we'll be able to follow through."

The Cailloux and VK Garage Theaters announced in late March that they would be closed to the public through the month of April. Since then, every event planned to take place in the City Center in May has also been either postponed or cancelled outright.

"May is usually a very busy month for us, with a variety of performances by local schools, dance studios, and touring groups. Most of those are simply unable to be presented, and even those that were possible to present couldn't be sure if things would work out."

Being "dark" is financially draining, of course, but thanks to a modest cash reserve, a successful application to the Payroll Protection Program, and an on-going campaign to raise funds from the public, the group is hopeful that the current closure of the performance halls won't lead to any permanent closure of the business.

"We're fortunate that, with the help of a truly supportive community, we can keep things stable for a couple of months. And we're trying to use the down-time productively."

The small Playhouse 2000 staff has been able to identify and take on multiple tasks that could be accomplished either from home or while working alone, including a re-vamp of its web presence, upkeep on theatrical equipment, and a complete overhaul of its digital patron records.

"We want to be sure that we're ready to re-open our doors just as soon as we're confident that it's the right thing to do," Brown added.

To that end, Playhouse 2000's annual "Shakespeare In The Park" production has been cast, and director Jessica Sturm will begin rehearsals - remotely, over the computer screen - by the end of the month.

"We sincerely hope that we'll bring 'King Lear' to the Louise Hays Park stage as planned on June 5 and 6," Brown said. "The nice thing is that, because this production is small and flexible, if that's not possible, we'll just find a way to bring it to the audience when it is possible."

Likewise, the cast and crew of P2K's Spring Musical, "Little Shop of Horrors," which suspended rehearsals in March, has proclaimed their willingness to re-group and put the final touches on the production as soon as they are allowed.

Other programs planned for the summer, including the highly anticipated appearance of the "Urban Cowboy 40th Anniversary Tour" featuring Mickey Gilley and Johnny Lee, remain on the calendar until further notice.

Brown continued: "Many of our 'behind the scenes' activities have continued - especially the job of planning for fall and the launch of our ‘Cailloux Performances’ series. It's hard to know exactly what will be happening here in September and beyond, but we can't wait 'till then to decide. We're making as many decisions as we can, while keeping everything as fluid as possible."

So, the question of "when" to expect the doors of the Cailloux City Center's theaters to re-open can't be answered today, but the question of "if" has received a resounding "yes" from the P2K staff, volunteers and supporters.

"We're here, really, for just one thing - to get people together to experience the joy of live performance" Brown says. "We're all looking forward to being able to offer that to our community once again."

Playhouse 2000 is Kerrville's Community Theater, and manages, on behalf of the City of Kerrville, the Kathleen C. Cailloux City Center for the Performing Arts, including the Cailloux Theater and the VK Garage Theater. For more information, including details on volunteering with or auditioning for P2K, readers can visit www.playhouse2000.com.

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