May 24—OGDENSBURG — For the first time in 15-months due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Ogdensburg Command Performances held a performance at Ogdensburg Free Academy's George Hall Auditorium.
Sally F. Palao, OCP administrator, said that Thursday night's showing of "What A Night!," a concert that she called the Jersey Boys meets Mamma Mia, was a sight to behold, especially after the 2020 season being canceled.
"It went well, you figure we haven't had a production in 15 months and this a company we have not worked with before and the audience had to adhere to guidelines that they weren't used to. So all of those things considered it went well. The audience loved the show, they were just thrilled to see something live. The performers really connected with the audience," said Mrs. Palao.
While the George Hall Auditorium seats 925, Mrs. Palao said that due to state guidelines they were only to seat just over 150 audience members. The auditorium's balcony, which seats 200, was closed.
"It felt empty of course, the people who were there had a grand time," she said.
The main guideline that had to be enforced was social distancing. So they went every other row, according to Mrs. Palao.
"With the new guidelines I am getting now, now we can sell as many as we want as long as we maintain social distancing. So were able to maintain social distancing and because it is such a large auditorium, it gave me some extra seats so actually I sold more than the 150," she said.
Mrs. Palao said that OCP staff were on hand at checkpoints to answer questions and to take temperatures. The audience took everything in stride, she added.
"Everyone was very cooperative and they recognized that its something out of our control and it's something we have to do," said Mrs. Palao.
OCP's schedule will continue June 2 with "Songs and Stories of Neil Diamond" by entertainer Jack Wright and "Take Me Home: The Music of John Denver" on June 16 with Jim Curry.
Thursday night's season opening performance showed Mrs. Palao that it could work for the short-term.
"We are going to move forward. I wanted to see how this one went because if it turned out to be majorly problematic, we would have had to reassess," she said.
Mrs. Palao said that OCP is currently working on the 2021-2022 that would begin in late October and continues to monitor COVID-19 guidelines.
"With the shows I am looking at, they are wonderful, great shows. The biggest stumbling block would be capacity. If they tell me I can only open to 50 percent or whatever. To pay for these shows I need to open to full capacity. So that's another thing we are waiting for more guidelines on," said Mrs. Palao, adding "and by full capacity that means no social distancing."
Regardless of the guidelines and limited seating, Mrs. Palao said that it was great to see live entertainment again in Ogdensburg.
"We didn't fold. We didn't go away. We're back," she said.