Restrictions on large crowds have halted film production and concert seasons. Broadway is even suspended until 2021. All in all, the world of entertainment continues to suffer at the hands of COVID-19.
But in Seoul, South Korea, the world tour of The Phantom of the Opera continues drawing crowds of over a thousand people to each of its 8 weekly performances.
Within the elite cast is one of our very own, Curt Olds. Born and raised in Butte, Olds worked his way through community theater programs, an undergraduate degree at the University of Montana, and eventually made it to the big leagues.
"I was in the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical Cats, which was my first big show with that organization, and I did the Hamburg, Germany company so I lived in Germany for a few years, and then went back to New York and was lucky enough to make a Broadway debut there," said Olds.
Now he’s a key player in the world tour of The Phantom of the Opera, playing Monsieur Andre.
He said keeping the show up and running throughout the pandemic wasn’t and isn’t impossible, they just have to be diligent and follow protocol.
"There’s a way to do it, and backstage runs like a hospital," said Olds. "We are under so many guidelines and the testing is very aggressive that the audience members have to register, not only in tracking situations, but they have a list of everybody that's attending the shows every single night. Everybody's sanitized, everybody walks up wearing their mask in the auditorium."
The Phantom of the Opera may be making history as the only show to truly survive the pandemic, but that’s not to say they haven’t had any setbacks.
In late March, two cast members tested positive for COVID-19, prompting the entire company to hit pause.
"We were immediately tested when that news came up and nobody else in the cast came back positive. We all did a mandatory two week quarantine at that point too," Olds said.
Despite the risks of the show, and the responsibility to keep everyone safe, Olds said it’s all worth it. "You know, it could be tomorrow that everything changes again so we just kind of count our blessings and perform like it might be the last time tonight."