Local surveys show 90% of season ticket subscribers are vaccinated against coronavirus.By Kristine Sorensen

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Local theater companies are announcing their new seasons for in-person live theater this fall.

But the question remains: What will it look like and will audiences feel comfortable?

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Pittsburgh Public Theater is welcoming audiences “All Aboard” – the theme of its upcoming season at the O’Reilly Theater. It’ll start with an online play in October, and then audiences will return to the theater in November.

“The magic of a live theatrical performance cannot be matched,” Managing Director Lou Castelli said.

Remember the play “The Chief” about Art Rooney and the Steelers? An all-new production of “The Chief” will be the first in-person show for Pittsburgh Public Theater.

Castelli said that the show is all about overcoming obstacles, saying, “That’s exactly what the Steelers did to become Steelers Nation and what we’re all doing now to return to living our lives in a way that feels closer to normal.”

Castelli said, according to CDC and county guidance, audiences can expect the theater experience to be much like before the pandemic with no masks and no social distancing. Twenty to 30 local performing arts organizations have been sharing ideas and plans as they work to re-grow audiences.

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“We’re now able to come up with what we think will make people feel comfortable going from venue to venue. It’ll feel familiar,” he said.

Pittsburgh Public Theater is planning to use digital programs on a special app, working on a more touchless experience and already updated its air filtration system.

Local surveys show 90% of season ticket subscribers are vaccinated against coronavirus, but that doesn’t guarantee they’re comfortable coming to the theater.

KDKA’s Kristine Sorensen: Are you nervous that people are not going to want to come back? That they’re not comfortable to be in a theater again so close to strangers?

Castelli: Yes, of course, a little bit nervous, but it’s Pittsburgh, right? We’re all ready. I think we can do this together. And I think the answer for a lot of us is – let’s be flexible.

The Pittsburgh Public Theater’s season finishes with Agatha Christie’s “Murder on the Orient Express” and one of August Wilson’s plays set in the Hill District.

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Pittsburgh City Theater will announce its season this week, and Pittsburgh’s ballet, symphony, opera and Broadway Series have already announced they’re starting live performances in the fall.

Kristine Sorensen