The storied Gateway Playhouse is postponing its summer season, and has announced a fundraising drive to help sustain the five-acre property through its pandemic-related closure.
"We will not be able to produce the full lineup of Broadway musicals we had originally planned," said Executive Artistic Director Paul Allan in a 6½-minute video on the Bellport nonprofit's website and its YouTube channel. "We had pushed to a June start date and then July 1, but there are still too many unknowns, and the timeline for when things can return to normal is constantly changing. Our top priority is to keep you and our entire staff protected and safe."
He assured, "We have secured the rights to the same lineup of shows and the full season will still go on, just 364 days later than originally planned."
The five musicals now scheduled for next summer are "Evita" (May 5-22), "Next to Normal" (June 2-19), "Matilda: The Musical" (June 30-July 17) and "A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder" (July 28-Aug. 14), all at The Gateway, and "Newsies" (Aug. 25-Sept. 11) at the affiliated Patchogue Theatre for the Performing Arts.
Four children's-theater productions — the soap-bubble show "Big Bubble Bonanza," the musicals "The Wizard of Oz" and "Disney's Moana Jr.," and the illusionist "The Amazing Max" — have been pushed to July and August 2021. Tribute-band concerts covering the music of The Allman Brothers Band, the Eagles, Elton John and Paul McCartney remain scheduled for this August, as does a holiday ice show for December.
Allan additionally noted that ongoing bills for taxes, utilities and insurance have prompted the theater to launch its "Gateway to the Future" fund drive at its website, thegateway.org.
"Over 90 percent of our operating revenue comes from the theatrical productions, and now with our major source of funding completely gone, we're turning to you for help," he said, adding, "I know that right now everyone is in need, but I would appreciate any support you're able to give. We have been able to secure a matching grant of $50,000 toward the first contributions to this fund, which would help us quickly get to our first goal of $100,000." Donations are tax-deductible.
The Gateway, a longtime mainstay of the arts on Long Island, was formally established in 1951 with a charter naming it the "official international theatre of the United Nations." Among the many stars gaining early experience there were Gene Hackman, Dustin Hoffman and Robert Duvall, who told Newsday in 2012 of his 1952 stint at The Gateway, "It was a lot of work but kind of a blessing at the same time, really. It was tough, 10 plays a summer — I mean, you had to do one play and learn another one during the week at night for the next week. So it was kind of interesting training to be able to do that."