Staff Report

In light of the on-going public health crisis and prohibition on public gatherings, PCPA – Pacific Conservatory Theatre will be forced to cancel its 2020 Summer season in Santa Maria and Solvang. Unprecedented in the theatre’s 56-year history, this decision follows six weeks of analysis and contingency planning. “The team at PCPA has been working hard to arrive at a different conclusion, but our commitment to the health of the community and company members, together with the uncertainty about when our audience will be able to gather again at the theater, made this deeply regrettable decision necessary.” explained Artistic Director, Mark Booher.

California Governor Gavin Newsom has said that while there is not a precise timeline for modifying the stay-at-home order to allow for large public gatherings, he did say, “When you suggest June, July, August, [mass gatherings] are unlikely.”

The cast of PCPA’s Hunchback of Norte Dame. Photo provided by PCPA and Luis Escobar Reflections Photography Studio

While PCPA staff and students have continued to work remotely since mid-March, the Conservatory programs will complete their training on May 15, and the organization needs to begin working toward its plans for the fall and the coming Season 57. PCPA hopes to have the continued community support to retain its permanent staff through this difficult period that has shuttered professional theatres across the nation. Still, the summer cancellation decision results in the theatre having to turn away not only its audience, but roughly 100 summer artists and artisans who were to have worked on the productions of The Sound of Music, Little Shop of Horrors, Something Rotten and A Doll’s House, Part 2. Rehearsals were to have begun this month with the summer season expected to open June 11 and play through September 6 in Santa Maria and Solvang.

PCPA is keenly aware that the cancellation will have a significant impact on these communities, and be an immense hardship on the wonderful theatre makers who would have come from all over the country to be a part of PCPA’s summer company. PCPA productions annually bring close to 30,000 people to Solvang Theaterfest’s beautiful Solvang Festival Theatre, resulting in nearly $1 million in local economic activity beyond the box office revenue. PCPA and Solvang Theaterfest remain vigorously committed to the community, their 46-year partnership, and plans for the future.

“Although we’re saddened by the thought of a summer without the magic of PCPA for the first time in 46 years, we know that this is best for the safety of everyone including the actors, the production crew, and our wonderful patrons,“ said Chris Nielsen, Board Chair for the Solvang Theaterfest. “Our partnership with PCPA will emerge from this challenging time stronger and more creative than ever as we count the days when we can once again gather under the stars of Solvang.”  

Mark Booher said, “It’s a word to which we’ve become too accustomed, but the only word I can conjure to describe this decision is ‘heartbreaking.’ My wonderful colleagues have been working for months, well over a year, to bring a season of illuminating and delightful plays to the stage this summer. The shows were designed and cast, some of them already under construction or just about to begin rehearsal. So, we’re very sad about not be able to bring these wonderful plans to fruition.”

Booher continued, “Still, the theatre is always founded on creative adaptability, and a certain basic optimism about the force and resilience of the human spirit. We need to be connected around story and lots of different stories. It’s essential to our sense of health and happiness. It’s what makes us a civilization. While we can manage, and even enjoy, periods of solitude, we also need to gather. We’re made to be in relationship with one another. That essential human need isn’t going away. If anything, this time of separation is clarifying our desire to be together and share a public life. When the time is right, PCPA will be shining its light again, as a gathering place for our community.”

Ticket-holders will be contacted by the Box Office with ticket return options. Visit our website for more details, contact information, and a list of frequently asked questions (FAQ).

Plans for PCPA’s Summer Educational offerings, and coming Season 57 are well underway and will be announced shortly.