There isn’t one East End business or cultural institution that hasn’t felt the effects of COVID-19. Now, more than ever, people need a reason to smile—a welcome distraction from the nightmarish headlines—and, thankfully, Bay Street Theater’s new Bay Street To-Go program aims to lift the spirits of adults and children throughout the Hamptons and North Fork.
Bay Street Director of Education Allen O’Reilly will lead the new Online Children’s Theater Camp beginning Monday, March 30. The free program, intended for children ages 7–13, will livestream on Zoom every Monday through Friday from 2–3 p.m. with lessons in vocal warmups, script reading and body movement. “One of the great things about our director of education is he’s going to get people moving,” Bay Street Executive Director Tracy Mitchell notes. “It’s a break from their schoolwork and hopefully a chance to connect with some of their friends or meet new ones.” To sign up your child, visit baystreet.org/education.
It’s difficult to imagine what a video conference with more than 200 people would look like, but anyone participating in Bay Street’s first ever Sip ’n’ Sing on Friday, March 27 is about to find out. Viewers will join cabaret singer Valerie dilorenzo and Mitchell on Zoom with drinks in hand (Order Takeout/Delivery from Hamptons Wine & Liquor Stores) as dilorenzo leads the first installment of this weekly group sing-along. The event links will be sent out via email each Friday, so make sure to sign up for Bay Street eblasts. “In the first half hour, we had over 185 people [sign up],” Mitchell says. “It’s a good sign—it shows how badly people want to connect.” She adds that anyone who has ideas for Sip ’n’ Sing themes should message Bay Street on Facebook.
While the goal of Sip ’n’ Sing is to lift people’s spirits and cultivate laughter, Mitchell notes that she will take a moment to remember and toast two of Bay Street’s dear friends and collaborators whose lives were claimed by COVID-19 this week—playwright Terrence McNally and actor Mark Blum. “He was most recently in our production of Fellow Travelers, and he was in our very first production and many productions throughout the years,” Mitchell says of Blum. “It’s been tough for the Bay Street family too, like everybody, it’s been a tough realization that this is really hitting home.” Artistic Director Scott Schwartz adds of McNally, “He was a brilliant writer, one of the finest of his generation, and this is a profound loss for all who work in or love the theater.”
Despite the uncertainty of when life on the East End will return to normal, the Bay Street team is busy planning for the 2020 Mainstage Season, whether it will be allowed to have a full audience, half or even less. Those with the means to buy a summer subscription or donate money should consider doing so online to help the organization continue operating without furloughing employees for as long as possible. “If you’ve lost your job and don’t have a way to help financially, you can always come to the sing-along and spread the good cheer,” Mitchell clarifies.
“I think that at the end of the day, we need to support all of our doctors, our first responders and all of those folks. And if we can’t stand behind them with applause and a thank you, we can stand behind them by lifting people’s spirits,” Mitchell says, adding that Bay Street is donating rubber gloves and whatever else the local hospital needs to help the community in any way they can. “Just connecting, even virtually, is such a help, because you realize that all of us are in this together, and we’re only going to survive it together…We must keep our spirits up, and that’s what the arts do. I can only offer that I will continue to do that every day that I get up, think to myself what I’m grateful for, and then take that and try to pass it along.”
For more information about Bay Street To-Go, Mainstage subscriptions and donations, visit baystreet.org.