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After 18 Months, Broadway in Portland Returns With “Jesus Christ Superstar” and Enhanced Safety Protocols at Keller Auditorium

At least 19 companies have formed a vaccine coalition for the fall season.

After the Keller Auditorium went dark due to COVID 18 months ago, the lights are back on and Broadway is officially back in Portland.

The Andrew Lloyd Webber classic Jesus Christ Superstar opened at the downtown venue on Sept. 28, marking the musical’s 50th anniversary and the return of some sense of normalcy as we head into the fall arts season.

Attending the play through its Oct. 3 run will—like most experiences during the pandemic—look and feel a bit different. Broadway in Portland requires all patrons, artists and staff to submit proof of full vaccination in order to enter the Keller—the easiest accepted method is probably just a photo of your stamped COVID-19 vaccination card.

Anyone who is unable to be inoculated must either show evidence of a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken within 72 hours of the performance or a negative antigen test taken within 24 hours prior to showtime. That includes children under 12.

Beyond that, the Keller is sticking to the new pandemic dress code: Masks must be worn inside, regardless of vaccination status. Tickets also come via mobile delivery and there is no intermission—at least not for this 90-minute production.

Undeterred by the new rules, audiences appear to be craving live, in-person theater. According to Broadway in Portland’s website, ticket availability for Jesus Christ Superstar is low throughout its local run, and most box seats are completely sold out.

The city’s next big company to kick off production, Portland Center Stage at the Armory, will implement similar safety measures, including face covering requirements. Frida...A Self Portrait, a one-woman show set on the eve of artist Frida Kahlo’s death, begins previews Oct. 9 and officially opens Oct. 15 on the venue’s main stage.

“I’m thrilled to launch the season of live performance on stage with this fierce, beautiful play,” artistic director Marissa Wolf stated in a press release. “Vanessa Severo is magnetic in this role; from the moment she locks eyes with the audience, you understand that you’re on a gripping journey of the soul.”

Portland Center Stage is one of 19 performing arts organizations that have united to form a vaccine coalition in order to prioritize the health and safety of everyone involved. They say it’s critical to limit the virus’s spread in order to keep local theater alive and avoid the sweeping shutdowns we saw last season.

Before attending any indoor performance, guests must present proof of vaccination. Some companies will also accept the results of a recent negative COVID-19 test, so check websites carefully before purchasing admission.

However, at least one company has decided to postpone its season. Clackamas Repertory Theatre announced this month that the spike in cases will slide all of its shows to 2022, with the first, Queens Girl in Africa, now set to open March 31.

Here is a list of the companies that have joined the coalition so far:

Artists Repertory Theatre

Bag&Baggage Productions

BodyVox

Broadway Rose Theatre Company

Cappella Romana

Imago Theatre

Literary Arts

Oregon Symphony

PHAME

The Portland Ballet

Portland Center Stage

Portland Opera

Portland Shakespeare Project

Shaking the Tree Theatre

Stumptown Stages

Theater Vertigo

Third Rail Repertory Theatre

Triangle Productions

White Bird