Cygnet Theatre is first San Diego theater company to announce vaccine rules for ticket-buyers

Cygnet Theatre in Old Town
(Courtesy file art)

The move follows an announcement by Broadway theaters of vaccine mandate in light of Delta variant’s meteoric spread


Cygnet Theatre has become the first professional theater company in San Diego County to require ticket-buyers to provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination or a negative test result.

The 18-year-old theater in Old Town San Diego made the announcement in an email to patrons on Saturday.

It follows a wave of announcements nationwide that Broadway theaters, concert organizations and opera companies are instituting vaccine and mask mandates to control the fast-spreading Delta variant.

Cygnet’s new policy requires fully vaccinated customers to provide their physical vaccination card, a picture of the card or a digital vaccine record with at least 14 days from the date of final dose.

Unvaccinated guests must submit proof of a negative COVID-19 Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test within 72 hours of the performance date and must wear a mask at all times. Vaccinated guests are also strongly encouraged to wear a mask indoors.

Cygnet’s season will begin on Sept. 10 with a reprise of the musical “La Cage aux Folles,” which had just one performance in March 2020 before the pandemic’s arrival forced the show to shut down.

Cygnet co-founders Sean Murray and Bill Schmidt said in a joint interview Monday afternoon that, as one of the first Equity theaters in the region to reopen for indoor performances, Cygnet couldn’t wait any longer for guidance from national, state and county health authorities. So, with tickets for “La Cage” already on sale, executive director Schmidt developed a policy that he said feels right for the safety of Cygnet employees, artists and audience.

Murray, Cygnet’s artistic director, said response to the new policy has been overwhelmingly positive among ticket-buyers. Only a handful of customers have responded negatively, and most of them are non-subscribers.

“It’s been really great. People are thanking us for doing it,” Murray said, adding that demand for “La Cage” tickets is so high that the show’s run was recently extended by two weeks to Nov. 7.

Cygnet’s announcement followed that of La Jolla Music Society, which announced a similar policy on July 27 for its SummerFest concert series, which opened on Friday. Several other local arts organizations said they’re mulling their own COVID-19 vaccine and mask policies but are not ready to announce plans.

San Diego Symphony is opening its 2021-22 season on Friday at its new outdoor Rady Shell at Jacobs Park on San Diego’s Embarcadero. Fully vaccinated audience members are not required to wear masks, but unvaccinated attendees are asked to wear face coverings, particularly at indoor spaces such as restrooms.

On July 30, the Broadway League announced that operators of all 41 Broadway theaters in New York City will require vaccinations for audience members, as well as performers, backstage crew and theater staff, for all performances from now through Oct. 31.

Masks will also be required for audiences inside the theater, except while eating or drinking in designated locations. Exceptions are being made for children under 12 and people with a medical condition or religious belief that prevents vaccinations. Those guests will require proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR test within 72 hours of performance time, or a negative COVID-19 antigen test within six hours of performance start time.

Charlotte St. Martin, president of the Broadway League, said in a statement that the decision was made in the interest of both worker and customer safety.

“As vaccination has proven the most effective way to stay healthy and reduce transmission, I’m pleased that the theater owners have decided to implement these collective safeguards at all our Broadway houses. A uniform policy across all New York City Broadway theaters makes it simple for our audiences and should give even more confidence to our guests about how seriously Broadway is taking audience safety,” St. Martin said.

Also in New York, the Metropolitan Opera and Carnegie Hall announced similar policies last week. In California, LA Opera and San Francisco Opera have also announced proof of vaccine requirements.