YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – More dates were set on Thursday for businesses in Ohio to reopen, but still nothing about live theater, which means one of Youngstown’s most popular theater groups has had to look elsewhere for work.
Outside the Mahoning Avenue studios of Easy Street Productions are advertisements for the March production of “Nunsense” and May’s “Beauty and the Beast,” neither of which took place.
“We had so much money invested in the shows that were coming up. It was like the rug getting pulled out from under us,” said Easy Street’s Todd Hancock.
Inside, Hancock and Maureen Collins talked about how their small theater company is surviving.
“I mean, the families who support us, this community, a few dear friends who’ve helped us literally, monetarily along the way here to keep it going, we couldn’t do it without them,” Collins said.
Easy Street has long been known for its work with young actors, Collins developing the talent through her Little Rascal workshops.
In the studio now is the equipment to stream the workshops online, which makes some money.
“Which was a first for us and it went so well,” Collins said.
But what about live shows? Can Easy Street do them while also social distancing? Hancock doesn’t think so.
“You all kind of collectively come together and enjoy this experience. To seat people 20 feet apart inside of a theater is kind of ridiculous,” he said.
Easy Street is getting help from the landlord who, along with friends and the online workshops, will keep Easy Street financially stable through summer.
Hancock is also thinking ahead.
“Maybe in the fall or sometime around Christmas, God forbid if we’re still under these kind of conditions, think about some kind of fundraiser for Easy Street,” he said.
Until then, Hancock doesn’t see any type of live show happening anytime soon.