Lisa Condit and Troy Siebels give an update on the postponement of The Band’s Visit and provide perspective on what it’s like for performing arts centers post-pandemic. Read on for highlights from the interview, or listen to the full interview below. Then tune in to Talk of the Commonwealth with Hank Stolz on WCRN 830AM Fridays at 9 AM and Saturdays at 1 PM for more behind-the-scenes interviews.
Lisa: Thank you all for listening to Behind The Scenes at The Hanover Theatre and Conservatory. Today we’re excited to be bringing you Troy Siebels, our President and CEO, for a very special Behind The Scenes with all sorts of breaking news. Welcome, Troy!
Troy: Thank you very much for having me, happy to be here.
Lisa: Absolutely! We were all very excited for the award-winning The Band’s Visit to play this weekend and it looks like we’re just going to have to wait a little while, until June of 2022. Part of the reason we’re talking about that is because we want to make sure that people know, and also, because we know people have questions about what happened.
Troy: Yeah, it came up quick on us, didn’t it? I think the root cause of it all was just that our industry is still reeling from the pandemic and trying to find a way to do what makes the most sense financially. Tours are having a hard time and it is able for them to reduce their losses pretty significantly if they can switch to next June. I think we are all hopeful that the pandemic will ebb further and we’ll be in better shape next June. They’re having trouble with the dates they’re doing this fall in every market, so we are committed to bringing the show to Worcester and this was a way that we could continue to do that. I am really sympathetic to all the people making last minute changes to their plans for this week, and I beg everyone’s patience to hang with us and know that we are doing the right thing and the shows are doing the right thing. It is some hardship in the short-term on all of us.
Lisa: It is, but there is hope on the horizon. We’re all excited about this musical coming and I know that you’ve been talking about it a lot. It won 10 Tony® Awards, including the Best Musical. There’s a little controversy about whether it’s really a musical or a play with music, but tell us why you’re really excited about bringing it and one of the reasons you thought it was important to book it.
Troy: It’s the Best Musical Tony® winner! What is a musical but a play with music? It is phenomenal and I’ve seen it twice, once in New York and once when it was on the road in Providence. I just find it really compelling and it is sort of haunting. It’s not a musical in the Rodgers and Hammerstein sense, but it’s got some beautiful music in it, it tells a beautiful story and it explores a beautiful, emotional journey. It’s one of my favorites in the season and I’m really excited to see it. I’m sorry I have to wait a little bit longer, but I’m glad that it’s coming.
Lisa: I haven’t seen it yet but I’ve been getting more and more excited with the more I learn about it. I love the idea that it rejoices in the way that music makes us laugh, gives us hope and ultimately brings us together. I think that’s a really important theme, not just for us as an organization, but for us as a community. I think that postponing The Band’s Visit is significant, especially when we need to do it the same week that we were scheduled to open the show. I think that it’s reassuring to know that this is a very responsible decision. It’s not a decision where we say, “We’re cancelling, that’s it,” and nobody wants to come back to the theatre. Instead, it’s an opportunity for us to be a little bit smarter about the decisions that we need to make. Sometimes, that means we need to be more flexible and nimble, but it also ties into some of the work that we’ve been doing throughout the pandemic. Recently, you were talking to board and staff members and we released our annual report, and financials are always a question that people have. Do you want to touch briefly on that?
Troy: Absolutely. There are many in our industry that are reeling, I think all of us are reeling from the pandemic and the shutdown. What we do is bring people together, that’s our magic, and that’s the thing we couldn’t do for a year and a half. There are performing arts centers out there that will not survive this, but we are not going to be among them. We have survived and are surviving, and have been really careful. I think that we’re here because A., we’ve had a lot of wonderful support from the community and we’re so grateful for that, and B., we’ve been really cautious in how we’re approaching things financially, and making sure that we safeguard our future. It does mean some short-term pain like this rescheduling we’re talking about this week, but our future is not endowed. We are here and we will continue to be here.
Lisa: Absolutely. We talked about how the audience that came to Escape to Margaritaville wasn’t as large as we hoped it was going to be, however, the people who came found such relief and joy in being able to come and have a great time at the theatre. I think that with The Band’s Visit postponement, it also underlines that we still need people to buy tickets to our shows. You’ve done a lot of great, strategic things, along with the other staff and board members, to make sure that we have that long view of what we’re trying to do.
At the end of the day, we still need our supporters and our ticket buyers to feel confident in coming back, comfortable that they’ll be safe, and to go ahead and buy tickets!Lisa Condit
Troy: Yes! I’m fully aware that the protocols can be a pain. You’ve got to come and show your vaccination card or negative test and you have to wear a mask, and none of us like doing those things. But, if that’s what it takes for us to be open, that’s what we’re going to do. Talking to the audience that was here for Escape to Margaritaville, we heard exactly the same thing. “Do I want to wear a mask? No, of course not. But, if that’s what it takes, I am here and I am having a great time.” We’re hearing that again and again. Every show that we do, we get a few more people. I think that it’s worth it. You come here and enjoy a show, and you go and tell people, “It was absolutely worth it to be back in the theatre again after the last couple of years.”
Lisa: Absolutely. Of course, we still have great seats available for The Band’s Visit if you go to our website, TheHanoverTheatre.org. A lot of people have the misperception that our Broadway series, and each show within that series, is really expensive. They might be used to the prices in New York, Providence or Boston, but tickets for all of our Broadway shows start at $39 with tickets on the floor in the Orchestra! I’m really proud of that fact. The holidays are coming up soon, everybody!