Steel River Cancels 2020-21 Season, Citing Pandemic

POTTSTOWN PA – In what it called only “an intermission,” management and directors of the Steel River Playhouse theater and performing arts venue, 245 E. High St., have “made the decision to cancel (its) upcoming season” as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, the non-profit organization announced Monday (Aug. 17, 2020).

Everything required to stage a production – from obtaining presentation rights, to bringing in directors, designers, builders and cast members, to scheduling rehearsals and presenting shows – “require lots of professional and volunteer staff to work together, mostly in person,” playhouse Artistic Director Leena Devlin explained. “These preparations … just can’t happen safely right now.”

Additionally, she noted, the playhouse building annually hosts more than 20,000 visits for performances, classes, meetings, and community events. “By closing the building we help to keep the whole community safe,” Devlin said.

The building has been shuttered since a March 12 declaration by Gov. Tom Wolf closed many public gathering places to limit the spread of COVID-19. “Five months ago I never would have thought our doors would be shut for this long,” Devlin said in an accompanying video (above).

The decision involved “much research, many discussions,” and considerations “of our artists and community members,” according to a playhouse media release.

Steel River personnel now begin the task of contacting subscribers and ticket holders, volunteers, sponsors and advertisers, students and families, “to ensure all questions are answered,” according to Devlin. Although the season has been interrupted before it started – most shows run in the period between October and June – Devlin thinks the pause can be valuable.

“We have always made it a priority to tell stories that matter,” Devlin said. “We’re taking this pause to see how we can do this even better.” Steel River defined the hiatus as “a unique opportunity to take the time to put processes and plans in place, to refocus our efforts to be a vibrant part of our community and come back stronger than ever.”

Photo and video supplied by Steel River Playhouse