“Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” was being staged through July 16 at Maine State Music Theatre in Brunswick, with Jordan Alexander, at left, as Joseph and Jeff Max playing Pharaoh. The production has halted due to an outbreak of COVID-19 among the cast. Contributed / Jared Morneau Photography

After a slew of sold-out shows at the Maine State Music Theatre in Brunswick, “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” was forced to end its run a week early after five cast members tested positive for COVID-19, the latest financial blow to the theater company.

Maine State Music Theatre never opened in 2020, due to the pandemic.

In 2021, the theater company attempted a truncated season. Due to scheduling issues caused by the late season, main stage performances were moved from the usual venue at Bowdoin College’s Pickard Theater to the Westbrook Performing Arts Center.

Poor ticket sales led the company to cancel its fall 2021 shows, which Artistic Director Curt Dale Clark at the time attributed to controversy over a policy requiring proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test for ticket holders, as well as general concerns about the virus. Hundreds of tickets were refunded,

The biggest loss endured by the theater in 2021 was money spent on the Rogers and Hammerstein show “Cinderella,” the theater’s most expensive production, said Clark. Unable to obtain the rights to the show this year or next, Clark said the elaborate costumes and set pieces will remain in storage for now.

Clark did not provide an exact amount as to how much the company lost, but said the theater saved nearly $2 million in potential losses by shortening its 2021 season.


Maine State Music Theatre opened for its 2022 season on June 8 with hopes of avoiding COVID closures.

“This will be a devastating loss of revenue,” Clark said this week.

Clark declined to comment on the exact dollar amount the theater expects to lose.

While the Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported low levels of COVID in southern Maine on their website, the Actors’ Equity Union has strict rules to prevent outbreaks and will close any show with too many positive cases in the cast, according to Clark.

Clark said all employees are given a COVID test each day, costing the theater $120,000 in testing supplies for the season. He said most of the infected performers didn’t show any symptoms other than a runny nose.

The community COVID tracker on the CDC’s federal website reported a weekly average of 113.56 cases of COVID per 100,000 people in Cumberland County and 136.66 in Sagadahoc County, leaving Clark unconcerned about mandating masks for audiences. He doesn’t believe the audience will transmit the virus to the performers.


“We will not go back to a mask mandate for the audience because it has nothing to do with what is going on here,” said Clark.

According to the Actors’ Equity website, “The Employer will not require or request any in-person interaction between Actors or Stage Managers and patrons. No visitors will be allowed backstage, and the Employer shall post signage backstage to that effect.”

Even with testing each day, Clark said he cannot control what his employees do outside of the theater. He said with 24 cast members working in close proximity during dance numbers and in changing rooms, it was bound to happen.

He said the theater has many loyal subscribers but worries that non-subscribers who only come to a few shows a year won’t return after this.

“Every time you cancel your show, you damage your relationship with the audience,” said Clark.

For those who purchased tickets for canceled performances of “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,” Maine State is giving patrons one of five options. Clark said patrons may exchange their ticket for another show this season, donate the value of their ticket to the theater, obtain access to a virtual performance of the show, receive store credit for a show in a future Maine State season, or request a refund.

“It truly breaks my heart,” Clark said. “Our goal was to have Joseph continue to remind people why they need us and want us.”

Clark said the first show of the season “The Sound of Music” had a few cast members test positive for COVID, but not enough to close down the show. He said they worked through it with the help of understudies and swing performers.

The third show of the season, “The Color Purple,” is still in rehearsals and will premiere on July 20, as planned.

Related Headlines

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.