Singer and guitarist Casey James, whose music has ranged from country to blues since his 2010 run on “American Idol” as a third-place finalist, will play Nov. 21 at the Alhambra Theatre.
Billed as the “Save Our Stage” event for the Pennyroyal Arts Council, the 7:30 p.m. concert will debut new livestreaming capabilities the theater needs to survive financially in the coronavirus pandemic, said Margaret Prim, the arts council’s executive director.
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“It should really open up a lot of doors for us,” Prim said.
The arts council will sell 200 tickets for the auditorium, which is less than a third of the Alhambra’s seating capacity, to maintain distance among audience members. Up to four people from a household may be grouped together. Live tickets are $50.
In addition, two types of tickets will be sold for a livestream — $25 for up to 50 patrons in The Hall at the theatre and $15 for those who would prefer to watch the show from home with high-speed internet.
James, who is from Texas, recently released a new album, “If You Don’t Know By Now.” It’s been called “a timely elixir” in the pandemic.
His website describes, “Hardship and uncertainty are naturally embedded in the blues-based chord structures, and the threat of isolation invariably lurks in such relationship-crossroads pieces as the doo wop-inspired ‘Nothing But Time’ and the arena-blues/rocker ‘Shake A Little Salt.’”
Prim said James will bring a band, including a horn section, for the concert.
The Alhambra was recently equipped with cameras that are run through an electronic board along with sound to create the livestreaming options.
“It’s kind of like producing a TV show,” Prim said. “It’s a big learning curve for us.”
Jason Killebrew, the Alhambra’s technical director and co-owner of Music Central, has led the effort to install the upgrades.
Performing artists and theaters have been among some of the hardest hit American institutions in the pandemic. The last time the Alhambra had a full auditorium for a live show was in mid-March. Prim said it isn’t feasible to keep the Alhambra shuttered much longer.
Ticket sales for special events like the Casey James concert and the arts council’s annual Live at the Alhambra series help pay for educational programming, staff and the theater’s upkeep.
Going forward, some concerts at the Alhambra will have two showings in the same night to accommodate demand for live tickets, and many will also include livestream options.
“A lot of people in our industry are doing this,” Prim said.
Livestreaming will also open up new options for programming that can be shown in schools.
For the James concert and other live events, patrons will be expected to follow a number of safety measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Everyone will be required to wear a mask, except when they are eating concessions in their theater seats. Hand-sanitizing stations will be placed throughout the theater. Social distancing points will be marked on the floor in the lobby and outside the entrance, and staff members will use scan tickets for a “contactless process.”
Tickets for the concert will be sold online and at the Alhambra box office, which is open from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday. The theater is on South Main Street across from Sixth Street.
After the James concert, the 2020-21 Live at the Alhambra Series will run from New Year’s Eve to mid-May with five shows. In addition, The Stylistics show from the 2019-20 season has been rescheduled for Oct. 2.
Prim said 70% of patrons from the last season have renewed. “We feel great about that,” she said.
Shows and dates for the 2020-21 Live at the Alhambra Series are:
- 6 and 9 p.m. Dec. 31 — Jaimee Paul and Leif Shires, New Year’s Eve celebration
- 6 and 8:30 p.m. March 26 — Daily and Vincent
- 4 p.m. April 18 — Popovich Comedy Pet Theatre
- 7:30 p.m. April 22 — Black Violin
- 7:30 p.m. May 14 — Shakespeare in Jazz
- Oct. 2 — The Stylistics (this show was rescheduled from the 2019-20 season)