Northern Sky Cancels Outdoor Season, Hopes Remain for Indoor Run

Northern Sky Theater has canceled its outdoor season due to the COVID-19 crisis. 

The theater company is also delaying the start of its indoor season in its new Gould Theater, with hopes to present an abbreviated run of Dad’s Season Tickets as soon as circumstances allow. Northern Sky’s fall-season schedule at the Gould Theater in Fish Creek remains unchanged for now: Naked Radio, scheduled to run Sept. 11 –  Oct. 31; and And If Elected, scheduled for Oct. 9-29.

The decision to cancel the outdoor season at the park comes after the company analyzed numerous scenarios, including the financial ramifications of delaying the opening of the park shows.

“The park season is a large operation that requires a significant investment in upfront and fixed costs,” said Dave Maier, Northern Sky Theater’s managing director. “Our performance window there is only 11 to 12 weeks, so a major opening-day delay would make our outdoor season financially untenable. Our indoor season, however, requires much less upfront preparation time, making a late start in the Gould more manageable. 

“Ultimately,” Maier said, “the difficult decision came down to what was most responsible for the safety of our cast and crew, our volunteers, our patrons and our community as a whole.”

Northern Sky typically employs more than 60 seasonal cast, crew and support-staff members from mid-May through Labor Day, and company members join the theater from across the country. Northern Sky also relies on the help of 270-plus volunteers to assist with many customer-service and maintenance functions.

The company was poised to celebrate several anniversaries in 2020: 50 years of performing in its outdoor home in Peninsula State Park, 30 years as a professional company and its first full season in the new Gould Theater.

“This is a tough one,” said Jeff Herbst, artistic director. “We have cast and crew who rely on us year after year for their summer employment, and loyal fans who make attending Northern Sky in the park part of their Door County experience.”

But the company has weathered tough times in the past.

“The death of Fred Alley in 2001, with 9/11 falling on the heels of that loss, was a very bleak time,” Herbst said. “But you know what’s been constant? Our patrons, our supporters and our volunteers. They have been by our side cheering us on through it all.”

“We are crossing our fingers that it will still be possible to welcome patrons to the Gould Theater this season,” Maier said. “By acting now and making this tough choice to suspend our plans in the park, the company will be able to conserve resources and maintain a state of readiness.”

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