Swine flu scare prompts L.A. theater to cancel performances
The Celebration Theatre's production of "Women Behind Bars" was supposed to open Friday, Nov. 13. The inauspicious day soon provided the company with more than its share of bad luck.
Shortly before opening night, problems with the set and some last-minute casting issues caused the company to push back the opening night by one week to Nov. 20, according to a spokesman.
From there, things only got worse. During the week of Thanksgiving, seven of the 11 cast members came down with flu-like symptoms. Fearing that the H1N1 virus was the culprit, the sick cast members visited their doctors. In the end, it was determined that one cast member did indeed have the swine flu. Five others tested negative for H1N1 but were diagnosed with the regular seasonal flu. The seventh was confirmed to have an inner ear infection.
The spokesman for the Celebration said that the theater decided to "play it safe" and cancel the performances for that weekend. He said the decision was made out of concern for other cast members and the audience.
He added that all cast members have since recovered from their ailments and are currently performing in the play.
Written by Tony-winning dramatist Tom Eyen, "Women in Prison" is intended as a send-up of 1950's B-movies that took place in a women's jail. The play was first performed in 1975. Eyen won his Tony in 1982 for the book of the musical "Dreamgirls."
The Celebration, which is located on Santa Monica Boulevard near West Hollywood, specializes in productions with gay and lesbian themes.
"Women Behind Bars" is set to close on its original final date of Dec. 20.
-- David Ng
Photo: a nurse prepares a shot of the vaccine for the H1N1 virus. Credit: Mustafa Ozer / AFP/Getty Images