Egyptian Theatre Pauses Its Schedule Due to COVID-19, But Won't Be Gone For Good
The Egyptian Theater on Main Street is going into hibernation. But the managers of the historic showhouse announced last week that it won’t be entombed.
Randy Barton, Executive Director of the Egyptian (and also KPCW’s regular afternoon host), said the entire staff of the theater will be furloughed this week and are going on unemployment. They will turn on their “ghost light” and turn off their spotlight until they can open to a full house.
Barton said that’s always been the plan ever since they closed down in March at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. For the past few months, they’ve had some limited offerings.
“In the spring, especially, when we were all kind of stuck inside, we used that time to really work hard to some improvements on the back end of our operations, through our database and our technological abilities,” he said. “And, boy, it was just fabulous. We made phone calls for two months to all of our supporters. Over the summertime, we were able to host a full summer of summer camps for kids. And we did some little Broadway performances on stage to private audiences.”
He said financially, it doesn’t make sense to put on their normal shows with a minimal number of seats.
“These shows that we put on, Leslie, average cost in the theater, $22,000 per night. So I think most of the listeners can do the math—that if we have 70 people in a theater, that’s a pretty expensive ticket.”
Barton said their plan is to conserve their resources until they can open again three or four nights a week with full houses and incredible acts.
“We’re so used to operating at such a high level that we really didn’t want to come out of this pandemic with similar offerings to what I was forced to put on the stage when I became Executive Director during the last recession, which was things like the Park City Ping-Pong championships, and Manly Man competitions,” he said. “We want to come right out of the gate offering Grammy winners, Hall of Famers, great big musicals, done on an intimate stage at a very high level.”
In the meantime, he said, they have the support of their Pharaohs’ Club. They received a loan from the federal Payroll Protection Act; restaurants and lodges have supported them with donated certificates; and another nonprofit, which technically owns the building, has waived rent.
But as one final project, he said they completed a history exhibit on the breezeway by the theater from Swede Alley to Main Street.
“So there are panels that take the reader all the way from the founding of Park City to present day—tells the history of the theater,” he said. “Boy, you should read some of the troubles they had in the past, with buildings falling down in snowstorms, being burned down. So, we’ll get through this.”