The novel coronavirus COVID-19 had a major impact on entertainment venues, but business leaders like Mike Bacigalupo, chief operating officer of the State Theatre in Bay City, showed fortitude and tenacity in handling the crisis. Great Lakes Bay Magazine talked to Bacigalupo about managing the State Theatre after COVID-19.
How did COVID-19 impact the State Theatre? Were cancellations a nightmare?
Luckily, we have not had to use the “cancel” word yet. When it first happened, we started moving things from March, April and May to the fall. For June, July and August events — the things we did outside at Wenonah Park in Bay City — those we had to move to next year.
It was no easy task. We had about 50 events, but every one of them was moved and rescheduled. On the other side of the coin, we did have to do some refunds, but out of all of those events we refunded maybe 100 tickets.
Talk about your plans for the fall shows and social distancing.
A lot of other theaters are worried about social distancing on stage. For our shows we have booked, they are mostly one-, two- or three-person shows. But even with our show that has five people, we can easily have performers 6 feet apart.
As far as the audience goes, we reserve seats for our shows — so we can physically block off seats and not sell them. That’s how we can social distance with our shows. When show day comes, we can also move people if we have to so that they are far enough apart.
Financially, this may result in a slight increase in the ticket price. But you can only sell so many tickets when you are social distancing.
Is there a show you are looking forward to most?
Our good friend Jeff Daniels is coming back to town Nov. 23, and our good friend Jim Brickman is coming back as well Dec. 10. We’re very excited both of those guys are coming back to the State Theatre.
What would you like people to know?
The show must go on. We’re going to keep moving forward and beat this thing. We’re going to be around and we’re not going to let this thing (COVID-19) beat us. We’re going to make sure everyone has a good experience, and whether we’re inside or outside, we’re going to make sure everyone stays safe.