Houston Theaters Respond To Coronavirus Worries

Like other theaters in town, A.D. Players at the George Theater is going the extra mile to remain open for performances.
Like other theaters in town, A.D. Players at the George Theater is going the extra mile to remain open for performances. Photo by Joe Aker
“Dear Patrons, Your health and safety is important to us. We want to assure you that our priority is making sure you feel safe and informed.”

Emails like this one from A.D. Players started flooding inboxes late last week as theaters all over Houston assured audience members that despite coronavirus concerns in the city, it’s still safe to visit their spaces and take in a show.

While there are confirmed and presumptive cases of coronavirus in and around Houston, 4th Wall Theater cited the March 8 Houston Health Department report in their message to patrons stating that, “there is currently no reason to avoid any Houston business due to concerns about COVID-19” and “the immediate health risk from COVID-19 remains low.”

But even with the very low risk, Houston theaters know that audience members may be wary and that a change in attendance could be financially crippling. So, while it’s business as usual for scheduled shows and presently no theater is reporting a drop in ticket sales, companies around town are implementing extra measures to ensure both the safety and peace of mind of their patrons.

In addition to encouraging patrons with cold or flu symptoms to remain at home, here’s what companies are doing:

A.D. Players
Like all companies in Houston, A.D Players is currently following the guidance provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as local and state public health authorities.

The Jeannette & L.M. George Theater will stock Kleenex and antibacterial pumps as they are available - presently they have a very limited supply of antibacterial sanitizer, but are continuing to look for and stock as it comes available. Nightly cleaning and sanitizing of their space is being performed.

Additionally, they are implementing a flexible ticket exchange policy that allows any ill patrons to exchange their tickets for a future performance.

Main Street Theater
Main Street is providing hand sanitizer pumps and wipes in the lobbies of both their MATCH and Rice Village locations and they are sanitizing theaters before each public performance.

The autograph line at their Theater for Youth is temporarily suspended, but they will hold Q&A sessions in its place so that children can interact safely with the actors.

A flexible ticket exchange policy is in place for ill patrons to change the date of their tickets.

4th Wall Theatre Co.
4th Wall has disinfected their audience space at Studio 101 in Spring Street Studios and will continue to do so following every performance. Additionally, they continually disinfect their office space.

Tissues and hand sanitizing gel will be provided for patrons at every performance.

One dedicated staff member or volunteer will hold open the door for guests at performances. Social distancing practices are being put in place such as having ushers request to view guests’ tickets rather than holding them, and there will be no shaking hands with guests.

Ticket exchanges for a later date or future show will be free of charge and no questions asked.

Theatre Under The Stars
Because TUTS doesn’t have any productions until late April, they say they are currently working closely with the Hobby Center to stay on top of the situation.

Presently, The Hobby Centre is implementing extra precautions such as additional hand sanitation stations and extensive daily cleaning and disinfecting protocols with dedicated housekeeping staff solely responsible for sanitizing seat arms, handrails, door handles, and other frequently touched surfaces.

Alley Theatre
The Alley is providing Kleenex and hand sanitizer throughout its facility and their housekeeping staff are taking extra measures to keep everyone safe.

A flexible ticket policy is in place to change tickets to future performance.

The company has formed a COVID19 Emergency Taskforce comprised of Alley staff leadership that sends weekly updates to staff about their efforts, updates from CDC, and tips for protection and safety.
Additionally, they are currently assessing next steps should the Alley Theatre need to be closed for an extended period of time.

Catastrophic Theatre
Catastrophic Theatre’s Brady Brunch Fundraiser has been postponed to Fall 2020 as a precautionary measure after consulting with members of the non-profit community and special events organizers.

Classical Theatre
Classical Theater has informed patrons that The DeLuxe Theater is well cleaned and that they will offer wipes and hand sanitizer in the lobby at all public performances.

A free ticket exchange program is also in effect.

The Ensemble Theatre has heightened its normal cleaning protocols for all building spaces and will offer hand sanitizer stations accessible to all staff and guests.

Their box office will exchange tickets to another performance at patron request.

Stages building services partners are taking extra care daily to ensure the cleanliness of their facilities at The Gordy and there is the availability of hand soap, sanitizer, and tissues throughout the venue.

They are currently are offering complimentary ticket exchanges and will work with patrons to find a solution that best serves their needs.


MATCH is taking precautions including enhanced daily cleaning and sanitation procedures that emphasize the disinfection of public areas. They're also providing hand sanitizer and tissue in theaters, rehearsal rooms, offices, and backstage areas.

Presently they've had only one cancellation. A troupe from the University of Pennsylvania was prohibited from traveling by University policy.

MATCH isn't able to offer a general ticket exchange policy with so many different groups presenting so many different shows. Instead, they will work with presenting organizations on ticket policy moving forward.

Queensbury Theatre

Lady in Blue Productions will be taking the following measures at every upcoming performance of Lady of Agreda at Queensbury Theatre:

Liquid hand sanitizer will be available for use at the box office, as well as several locations throughout the theater lobby and in the restrooms.

Any involved artists or staff members showing any signs of illness, or reports feeling sick will be asked to stay home and see a doctor if necessary.

Patrons who feel ill on the night of the performance will be welcome to exchange their tickets for another performance free of charge.

Rec Room Arts
Rec Room Arts has hand sanitizer dispensers placed in the lobby, bar, and bathroom.

They have scheduled deep cleans for their building and will increase the frequency of sanitizing chairs, tables, door handles and other high-density areas.

Patrons may take advantage of Rec Room’s flexible online ticket exchange policy and stay at home while ill. 
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Jessica Goldman was the theater critic for CBC Radio in Calgary prior to joining the Houston Press team. Her work has also appeared in American Theatre Magazine, Globe and Mail and Alberta Views. Jessica is a member of the American Theatre Critics Association.
Contact: Jessica Goldman