Westfield Playhouse has sadly announced that its rescheduled production of “Raisin in the Sun,” which was expected to open on Thursday at the new Westfield Playhouse, would again be canceled or postponed, this time due to sickness among cast members.
“It is with the heaviest and most broken heart that we announce that all live performances of ‘A Raisin in the Sun’ have been canceled due to sickness in the cast. The health and safety of all who enter our theater is our primary concern, and we cannot in good faith continue with live performances of this show at this time.”
Tickets will be refunded or transferred to an upcoming production.
Yes, it is quite sad that the production -- for which the cast and crew, and director Nancy Lafferty, have been diligently rehearsing -- has been canceled or postponed for a second time.
Westfield Playhouse last spring announced postponement of the “Raisin in the Sun” production on March 17 just three days before opening night at the former theater in Eagletown, upon announcement of the COVID-19 (Coronavirus Disease) pandemic and recommendations issued by Indiana Gov. Eric J. Holcomb and the Indiana State Department of Health, and due to the uncertainty of the world.
It is currently uncertain if the play will be rescheduled or if it will be filmed to present as a virtual performance.
Community theaters are making sure that patrons’ and cast and crew safety are top priorities.
The Belfry Theatre in Noblesville this 56th season has recently announced its move to a larger venue -- in Noblesville First United Methodist Church Celebration Hall -- for all shows in its 2020-21 season. The first show of the season will actually be in the second timeslot of the season, “The Game’s Afoot; Holmes for the Holidays,” Nov. 27-Dec. 13, directed by Eric Matters.
The Belfry, which has adopted a similar COVID-19 policy as Westfield Playhouse for patrons, will seat Celebration Hall at less than 25 percent capacity and will require patrons to wear masks, will require advance reservations and will require patrons to have their temperatures taken upon arrival and to answer health questions. There will be no concessions sold, no paper playbills and no congregating in the lobby.
Due to the pandemic, the Encore Association chose to forego the in-person awards ceremony this year, opting for a virtual broadcast the first Monday of November of the 51st annual Encore Association awards.
The ceremony recognized the best of the best in community theater.
Locally, three community theaters in Hamilton County -- Westfield Playhouse with 35 nominations, The Belfry Theatre with 26 nominations and Carmel Community Players with 16 nominations -- earned a total 77 nominations, despite the pandemic cutting short the spring and summer seasons of these community theaters.
Westfield Playhouse, also known as Main Street Productions, brought home more awards than any other local theater, with 16 awards.
Westfield’s “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance” earned eight awards from the production’s nine nominations, Best Production of a Drama, Thom Johnson; Best Director of a Drama and Best Costumes for a Drama, Veronique Duprey; Best Lead Actor in a Drama, Matt Hartzburg; Best Lead Actress in a Drama, Sabrina Duprey; Best Major Supporting Actor in a Drama, Xavier Jones; Best Minor Supporting Actor in a Drama, Adam Davis; Best Set Design for a Drama, John Sampson and Veronique Duprey. The Playhouse’s “Lie, Cheat and Genuflect” comedy earned six awards from 15 nominations, Best Production of a Play, Ka’Lena Cuevas; Best Director of a Comedy, Best Set Design for a Comedy and Best Set Decoration for a Comedy, Jen Otterman; Best Lead Actor in a Comedy, Joe Wagner; and Best Stage Manager(s) of a Play, Ka’Lena Cuevas and Kelli Conkin.
And Westfield’s “Over the River and Through the Woods” earned two awards from 23 nominations, Best Major Supporting Actor in a Comedy, Joe Aiello; and Best Major Supporting Actress in a Play, Jan McGill.
The Belfry Theatre in Noblesville earned four awards from 11 nominations for the drama, “Wait Until Dark,” Best Performer Under the Age of 18 in a play, Teagan Cortez; Best Set Decoration for a Drama, Jen Otterman; Best Lighting Design for a Drama, Eric Matters; and Best Props for a Play, Amanda Bell, Ka’Lena Cuevas, Jen Otterman and Audrey Caron.
The Belfry’s “Side by Side by Sondheim” musical earned two awards, Brenna Whitaker of Noblesville for Best Musical Direction; and Judges Special, for onstage presence and presentation of the two pianists, Royce Thrush of Indianapolis and Bernie Hirsch of Westfield, who were integral members of the cast and performed the entire production in tandem. I’m proud to share that I co-produced the “Sondheim” musical with Noblesville’s Carla Crandall.
Also, The Belfry’s “A Christmas Carol” 2019 holiday production earned a Judges Special award for use of two projectors to create visually appealing, scene-enhancing transitions between numerous backgrounds. That play earned 11 nominations, including this journalist for Best Production of a Drama (Winner was Thom Johnson of Westfield for “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance,” which earned eight of its nine nominations, noted earlier.)
Also, three of The Belfry’s Apprentice Players youth -- Riley Hobbs of Noblesville and Jaden Sparks of Fishers in the Senior division and Katelyn King of Fishers in the Junior division -- each earned a Jean Cones Memorial Scholarship to be used for theater-related workshops, camps or classes. My daughter earned the Junior division scholarship in 2019.
Carmel Community Players earned one Encore Association award, Joe Wagner for Best Minor Supporting Actor in a Comedy in “Lend Me A Tenor.”
Standing Ovation honorees recognized thespians who passed, including Ginny Burt, Noblesville, of The Belfry Theatre and Christopher Earls of Carmel Community Players. More recently, about three weeks ago, The Belfry lost volunteer David Todd, the widower of Belfry director and actress, the late Connie Murello-Todd, and stepdad of Joey Murello.
The 50-year-old Encore Association is comprised of nonprofessional, nonprofit community theaters. Its board annually plays host to this awards ceremony recognizing excellence from the previous theatrical season. A committee of judges view productions and select nominees.
The Encore Association awards ceremony is traditionally the social event of the year, like the Oscars, or the Tonys for community theater, where people dress to the nines, and cheer on fellow thespians lucky enough to go home with awards for being the best in their show.
To watch the Encore Awards ceremony, visit http://www.encoreassociation.net/. Since the ceremony was virtual rather than in-person, the nonprofit Encore Association was unable to sell tickets, which fund the scholarship for youth. To donate online to the scholarship fund visit the website above.

-Contact Betsy Reason at betsy@thetimes24-7.com