To our theatre family,
With our unprecedented 2019 season in the books, following incredibly successful runs of The Comedy of Errors and Beauty and the Beast, we’re already thinking about 2020 and beyond.
In fact, we’re always thinking about the future, and what we dream our company is going to look like in two, five or even 10 years’ time. And oh yes, we’ve got plenty of ideas simmering on the back burners. When planning for the long term, sometimes you have to pause and evaluate before you take a big step forward.
If you saw Beauty and the Beast, you witnessed the culmination of literally thousands upon thousands of volunteer hours that went into honing and perfecting every detail, from the set and costumes to the props and lighting to, of course, the performance itself.
Those are hours invested not just by the two of us, but by the nearly 70 members of our production and performance teams—not to mention the support and assistance offered by all of our friends and families.
We do it because we love it. We are overjoyed by what we were able to create this year. And we’re so excited to be bringing you our next musical production:
Chicago, coming Fall 2021.
We decided earlier this year to take a break from producing a full-scale musical next summer. After six consecutive years of producing full-scale musicals—each one bigger, better and more elaborate than the one before—the simple truth is that we, and all of our teams, are in need of a chance to fully recharge our creative batteries.
Don’t worry, next year will still include our customary Shakespeare in the Park. This time out, it will be Pericles, Prince of Tyre—and, as ever, we’ll be putting our own special twist on it. We’ll also be looking to produce at least one more show over the course of the year. More details on our 2020 season will be coming in due time.
But the results of our 2019 season also brought some other truths into focus. Despite selling out all seven performances of Beauty and the Beast—the first time we’ve fully sold out a run of any show—the production got close to breaking even, but didn’t quite make it.
The situation is such that our ticket sales no longer offset the cost of producing a musical. You can get a detailed breakdown of the costs that go into putting on shows of this scale in this article written by our dear friend Rachel Jacobson.
That leaves us with three options: do away with our musicals altogether, drastically scale back the production values, or find new ways to make sure our company can remain viable and vibrant for years to come. Given how far we’ve come, we couldn’t entertain either of those first two options.
What that means is that over the next few seasons, we’ll need to find new ways to move forward successfully, including fundraising events and a restructuring of our ticket prices. Please know that our goal as a company is still to provide Salt Spring audiences with the most professional and entertaining local theatre productions we can, while remaining accessible to as many people as possible.
We can’t put into words how much we appreciate the support that you have given us not this year, but throughout all of the productions we’ve brought to life in the past half-dozen years—and we’re so excited to be continuing this creative journey with you.
Jekka Mack and Christina Penhale
Artistic Directors, exitStageLeft Productions