BRUNSWICK (WGME) -- With summer just around the corner, summer theaters in Maine are faced with a difficult question on whether to open.
Every summer, the streets of Brunswick are packed with people from all over, going out to dinner and catching a show at the Maine State Music Theatre. However, due to the coronavirus, the theatre has decided to cancel their summer season, a decision that not only affects the theatre community, but also the local economy.
Charis Leos has performed at MSMT for the past 14 years. She says not having a summer season is heartbreaking.
“It is literally my home away from home,” Leos said.
Leos says it’s the audience she’ll miss most.
“The audience is really our final cast member, and really creates the energy and the magic of what we do and how it happens,” Leos said.
The artistic director of MSMT says making the decision to cancel was a long and difficult process.
“There just didn’t seem any safe way for both the employees and for our public to be able to do the season,” MSMT Artistic Director Curt Dale Clark said.
Unlike other Maine summer theaters, such as the Ogunquit Playhouse, which is postponing its season, MSMT only has the theatre for three months out of the year.
“We know what our season does for downtown Brunswick and for the economy,” Clark said.
Douglas Lavalee owns Scarlet Begonias. He says his restaurant relies on theatre-goers to make enough money to last them the year.
“It is the economic driving engine for the town, it’s what keeps everyone’s heartbeat going throughout the summer,” Lavalee said.
While those closest to the theater understand why they need to close, they say it’s hard to imagine a summer without it.
“The work of course,” Leos said. “It’s what we do, it’s in our blood and it’s really heartbreaking to not get to do what we love to do for the people who love to see us do it.”
The artistic director of MSMT says he understands times are tough for everybody. If you’re in a position to help, they’ve set up a “lifeline fund” where people can donate.