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Rialto Theater gets creative to survive COVID-19 pandemic

Rialto Theater got creative to survive COVID-19 pandemic
Posted at 7:40 PM, Nov 23, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-23 23:32:27-05

ARANSAS PASS, Texas — Everyone who works at the Rialto Theater in Aransas Pass is a volunteer, so there were no salaries to pay as the theater struggled financially during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

But there was rent to pay, and the electricity bill.

At first, shows were canceled as a novel coronavirus precaution, and then when they resumed, audiences were smaller than normal.

That lost revenue led to leaders considering closing the theater's doors.

“We’ve had some discussions along that line," said Rialto Artistic Director Russ Walker. "But hopefully — we’re crossing our fingers that that won’t happen.”

To keep it from happening, theater leaders expanded the entertainment line-up: There's a weekly open mic night, and the theater has hosted concerts, comedians — and even a hypnotist — to accompany the normal live shows.

The moves seem to be working, but theater leaders say they're not out of the woods just yet.

“We would like to see everybody come on out and support live theater," Walker said. "There’s a lot of us in the area — a lot of theaters in the area that are still struggling. And we need patrons."

Walker is hopeful that live theater fans will come out in large numbers for the show the Rialto is putting on in December.

"All is Calm: the Christmas Truce of 1914" tells the real story about Allied and German soldiers putting down their weapons on Christmas Eve during World War I and singing together.

"I think people need this story more than ever right now," Walker said.

And the Rialto needs big audiences to continue its road to recovery.

Click here to see show times and to buy tickets.