Glace Bay Theatre: The Savoy’s Pandemic Pivot
by Rebecca Davis
Located in the heart of Glace Bay, the Savoy Theatre is Cape Breton’s entertainment showplace. Their mission is to provide cultural opportunities for growth, learning and expression through theatre, music and dance.
COVID-19 meant many of the community hubs we depend on had to switch gears quickly and often, finding new ways to do what they love to do. With almost 800 seats and frequent events at full capacity, the Savoy made the difficult decision to close in March 2020.
For Pam Leader, the Savoy Theatre’s executive director, it’s been bittersweet. “We couldn’t gather with our friends and families to act, dance and sing together. But we were able to make good use of our downtime and still support our staff.”
The Savoy team put work into new projects like professional development, updating procedures and building repairs. They found they had more time for the details that a busy show season might compromise. During the early mask shortage, some of the costume designers made and delivered 3000 masks to local seniors.
Later in the year, things were looking up. The Savoy Theatre put on 2 livestream shows at Christmas, and have another coming next month. They’re planning a dinner theatre this June with social distancing protocols. And in the fall, a grand reopening with a tribute musical about Rita MacNeil.
“We’re very grateful to our community for supporting us while we couldn’t support them like we normally would,” Leader said. “We were initially scared of what we’d lose, but we ended up looking at what we gained. And we’re excited for what’s to come.”