PORTLAND, Maine — 2020 was shaping up to be a good year for Ogunquit Playhouse. For one thing, it was going to present “The War of the Roses,” a new dark comedy adapted from the 1989 film starring Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner. Even better, the play was to be directed by Jason Alexander, best known for portraying George Costanza on “Seinfeld.” Do you think he might know a thing or two about making people laugh?
That production and everything else Ogunquit Playhouse planned to offer this year got wiped out by the coronavirus. The whole season—gone. This is a theatre that’s made it through hard times, including the Depression and World War II, but never to this degree. “I’ve only missed one performance in my fifteen years,” says executive artistic director Brad Kenney. “And that was because of a hurricane. We were under a state of emergency.”
The Playhouse gets eighty percent of its revenues from ticket sales, so the coronavirus has inflicted a financial blow far worse than any hurricane’s, even though many people who bought tickets for this summer have told the theatre to keep the money. Despite the uncertainty about the future, the mission remains: entertaining young and old, preserving the historic building, supporting the community, working on new plays and musicals, and having a big cultural impact. “We’re optimistic. We’re realistic,” Kenney says. “It’s hard for us because we’re used to earning our own way. And now it’s going to take a big community to keep institutions like Ogunquit Playhouse healthy through this crisis.”