The History of
Beech Street Theatre Company
Act V: Redux (2020 - 2022)
Throughout the rise and fall of the COVID-19 pandemic, BSTC was quieter than usual, but it did not suffer as much as other local businesses which were dealt unfair cards by the lockdowns. Even physically apart, the Beech Street community stayed as afloat as a theatre company could in a time where live theatre was nearly impossible.
In March 2020, Beech Street had just opened The Sodfather, Beech Street’s newest dinner theatre. The Sodfather had a very strong cast, and a memorable script written by Michael. The play was shaping up to be a Beech Street classic. Unfortunately, after just two shows, the decision was made to postpone The Sodfather due to the new COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting social lockdowns. The show would go on, just after a longer intermission than usual.
In July 2020, Beech Street reviewed the ways in which it could bring theatre to the community even while adhering to the social distancing guidelines of the time. One idea was to perform for free at outdoor venues, audiences would be encouraged to buy dinners from local restaurants and to bring their food to the outdoor, so they could dine and watch a performance. This socially distanced theatre potluck would support local restaurants, and would allow for a safer dinner theatre. However, after further review from the Beech Street Board, and input from the town of Whitby, it was decided that the virus was still too high a danger for an outdoor theatre venue.
Though it was a very changed and more unknown than predictable time in this first year of the pandemic, it did not stop Beech Street completely. With connections in the local surrounding theatre world, Beech Street was invited to take part in the Northumberland Players Shorts online festival. They auditioned with Death Certificate. It was accepted and performed as part of the festival. Several local actors, and BSTC alumni, had roles in that and in some of the other plays that were staged. The festival’s success proved that online theatre could be a valid means of bringing theatre to the community back home with Beech Street.
In November 2020, Beech Street said goodbye to Emy Moreland, who passed away after a lengthy battle with cancer. Those in the community who had the opportunity to work and play with Emy knew very well what a kind, loving, talented, and funny person she was. Her portrayal as Maria Growyourown in The Sodfather, was a comedic masterpiece. We at Beech Street truly miss her.
Act IV: Redux (2020 - 2022)
In April 2021, Beech Street broke new ground with video, and the first online BSTC performance was in production. The play, The Four Seasons, was written and directed by founding board member Dr. Mark Terry, after encouragement from his colleagues at the United Nations. It featured four Beech Street actors performing on the virtual Zoom stage, and was dedicated to raising awareness about the ongoing climate crisis. As a result of the play’s promotion by the UN for Earth Day, it gathered an audience of 650 people worldwide, and appeared on the UN’s own GIS map of Earth Day activities from around the world. Not long after, a new Sustainability Mandate was drafted by Mark for Beech Street which followed the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Beech Street now had a clearer set of standards to work with to ensure that as it grew, every play it produced would be safe, clean, and healthy, for both its actors and the natural environment.
In September 2021, plans to return to in-person theatre were crafted by the board. Looking ahead, the company would be faced with the challenges of returning to the live stage, and bringing audiences back to Beech Street. COVID restrictions were close to being lifted, and possible performance venues were being considered. Notably, BSTC was nominated for the People’s Choice Award for Best Dinner Theatre in the Durham Region.
The remainder of the year and beginning of the next would see Beech Street’s slow return to both live theatre and regular community activity. It also saw changes within the structure of the Board of Directors, as more descriptive titles were assigned to each board member. During this time, changes within the board took place as well. Some members decided to resign, or not sit for another term, and new members stepped in or shuffled responsibilities.
Act IV: Redux (2020 - 2022)
In February 2022, a new roster of future performances and activity was in planning. This slate included the possible return of The Sodfather, as well as a new play written by Michael called Dining with the Dead, which would be performed later in the year. In addition to large scale performances, smaller programs involving Beech Street were also reopened. The “Build A Play” program with BIAD performed a small play called Overcooked and Underdone, and the program would continue later in the year as well.
In October 2022, Beech Street Theatre was back in full swing with well received performances of Dining with the Dead, staged at the Cobourg Museum. The play brought back old members of the theatre, and picked up some fresh faces as well. Soon after, Beech Street took part in Ghost Walks with the Town of Whitby, and the theatre’s love for retelling old local history was no secret to its audiences.
By the end of the year, new life had been brought to Beech Street, and things had finally opened up for the theatre after over two years of little activity. The year was capped off by the launch of a new modernized website and logo. These were designed by the board’s new design team, made up of board members Debra, Thomas, and Aria. This new look and growth marked the end of an old era, and the beginning of a new one, as the Beech Street redux was complete. As COVID cued to make its long awaited exit stage left, the BSTC was once again looking to the future with anticipation as the curtain was ready to rise on the new year.