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Idaho Shakespeare Festival cancels first two productions of the 2020 season

A letter went out to Shakespeare season ticket holders Tuesday afternoon announcing the cancellations and delay of other performances.

BOISE, Idaho — Boise's popular Idaho Shakespeare Festival had about 75,000 visitors last year, but that number will be much lower this year due to the coronavirus and the festival’s plans regarding actor and audience safety.

In a letter written by artistic director Charles Fee and managing director Mark Hofflund, they shared the somber news with season ticket holders.

"We are writing today to share the very difficult news that we must delay the opening of our 2020 Season (originally scheduled for May 22nd) and cancel our first two productions, Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing and the Fats Waller musical Ain't Misbehavin'."

The letter went on to say that the earliest possible for opening the Idaho Shakespeare Festival amphitheater will be on June 13-26, that's during Stage Four of Gov. Little's plan to reopen Idaho. 

"As hard as it is, sometimes the show cannot go on, particularly when the health and safety of our community, artists and patrons is at stake," according to the letter.

Fee said their staff is currently adjusting schedules.

“Clearly the governor is beginning to roll out the staged openings of Idaho,” he said. “For us, we have to back up from those stages and ask ‘when do I start rehearsal?’,” he added.

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The five-show season typically runs from late May to late September.

The festival is also showing 'Henry V,' 'Emma,' and closing the season out with a murder-mystery in September - “one of the greatest thrillers of all time,” according to Fee.

"A measure of comfort is gained knowing this has happened before, knowing theaters did re-open, when it was safe to do so, and audiences and artists did return," the letter reads. 

RELATED: 'Most of the state will be open by the end of June': Here's when Idaho bars, churches and more could reopen under Gov. Little's plan

Fee added ticket buyers have three options for returning their tickets for cancelled shows.

Ticket buyers can exchange their ticket for a later performance, get a full refund, or donate their purchase to the theatre and get a “charitable giving letter”, and is tax-deductible.

"We'll be together again, under Idaho's starry skies and moonlit nights.
From all of us in the Festival family, thank you for your patience and understanding, as we do our utmost to bring you safely back to the theater!" the letter concludes.

For more information on the Idaho Shakespeare Festival, visit their website.

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