"Our last show was on March 13,” remembers Amanda Ronchi, the general manager at the Greenwich Odeum. “Though there was a lot of uncertainty around what would happen next, one thing we did know was that due to the nature of our business, we would be one of the first to close and the last to reopen.”
This year was supposed to be a big one for the Odeum. They had just wrapped up major renovations like an additional 74 seats and new bar and lounge, and were anticipating a lineup with some of their biggest shows to date: LeAnn Rimes, Keb’ Mo’, Roger McGuinn, and Louie Anderson, to name a few. So when the shows were cancelled or postponed until next year and the refund requests began to roll in, the East Greenwich theater had to find creative ways to stay afloat.
“We created new initiatives like our ‘Rent the Marquee’ campaign,” begins Ronchi, which offered patrons the chance to display personalized messages on the Odeum’s signage; they also began to sell autographed posters and schedule private movie screenings. Most importantly, they worked on a plan to reopen their doors as soon – and as safely – as possible. Now in October, while most of the state’s performance venues remain shuttered or exclusively virtual, the Odeum is bringing live shows back.
“Coming to a show or movie at the Odeum now is certainly very different than it used to be,” says Ronchi. She reviews their COVID-19 safety plan, which includes temperature checks before even entering the theater, face masks, social distancing markers on the floor, seat covers, routine sanitization, assigned seating, and even changes to the bar menu to offer only low-contact items like canned wine and cocktails. All of these changes make it possible for the stage to be set, lights dimmed, and show to go on – just in time for ROCKTOBER.
“October at the Odeum is usually a month filled with rock and roll,” Ronchi explains. “The goal of our new campaign is to encourage our community to keep rock and roll and the Odeum alive and thriving as we get through the pandemic.” Programming will include limited capacity live concerts, themed movie screenings, and even special backstage tours.
For the Odeum team, being able to offer in-person entertainment again is essential. “While we are all very grateful for the ‘quarantine concerts’ that kept us entertained and helped live music stay alive during the early months of lockdown, it can’t replace the experience of attending a show,” says Ronchi. “Being in the same room as your favorite artist, seeing your favorite film on the big screen, cheering and singing along with a room full of fellow music lovers, and laughing or crying along to a film with dozens of other people – these are indescribable feelings that just can’t be replicated in your living room.”
Find more information on Greenwich Odeum’s safety protocols and upcoming shows at GreenwichOdeum.com.