Vanguard Theater Company managing director Jessica Sporn, left, and founder Janeece Freeman Clark. (Diego Jesus Bartesaghi Mena)

By DIEGO JESUS BARTESAGHI MENA
bartesaghi@montclairlocal.news

Vanguard Theater Company, Luna Stage and the Wellmont Theater will all require patrons to be vaccinated or to present recent negative coronavirus tests to attend shows.

Vanguard in Montclair and Luna in West Orange (and formerly in Montclair) are both participants in the New Jersey Theater Alliance’s “Opening Night, Opening Right” campaign. On Thursday, 25 participating theater companies and five presenting venues said they’d require proof of vaccination or a negative PCR test taken within the prior 36 hours for admission. They’re also requiring masks for indoor shows. 

“Throughout the pandemic, the Alliance and their theater members have come together to outline guidelines to protect the health and safety of all who come through their doors, onto their stages, or work within their organization,” an announcement from the New Jersey Theater Alliance said. 




Not all 40 members of the Alliance agreed to the vaccine or test requirement, but all did pledge to meet or exceed local and national safety guidelines with practices including deep cleaning and disinfecting before performances, clear mask policies, contactless transactions, health screenings before entry, flexible ticket policies for anyone feeling ill or at risk of coronavirus, and sanitation stations for staff and patrons. 

Vanguard Theater Company’s managing director, Jessica Sporn, said that the theater will accept proof of a recent negative PCR test for people who are not vaccinated. It will accept an original or photocopied vaccination card, or proof through apps such as New Jersey’s Docket app.

Sporn said that since the theater opened in early June, with multiple productions as well as summer programs for teens and children, the company hasn’t had one positive case of coronavirus.

“In addition to wanting to keep our adults and 12 and over teens safe, Vanguard is committed to providing a safe environment for our youngest thespians, ages 8-12, who are still not eligible for vaccines,” Sporn said in an email to Montclair Local. “In addition to the guidance from the NJ Theater Alliance, we thank our COVID compliance director, April Leonhard, for supervising all of our safety initiatives, and the NJ State Council on the Arts for providing grant funds to help us purchase contactless fixtures and products to help keep our theater as safe as possible.” 

Luna Stage told Montclair Local in an email Friday it would accept photo proof of a coronavirus vaccination or a recent negative PCR test. On its website, Luna Stage also says it thoroughly cleans its theater before and after performances, and has increased the frequency of cleaning across all public areas. 

The Wellmont Theater, which reopened its box office this month, will require patrons to present proof of vaccination, according to its website. The theater will require concertgoers to be fully vaccinated with both doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, or one shot of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Patrons can use New Jersey’s Docket App or New York’s Excelsior App to present proof of vaccination. They can also present both sides of an original vaccine card, or a photocopy or digital copy. A negative PCR test taken within the preceding 72 hours will also be accepted, but a rapid antigen test will not be accepted. Masks will be required in the venue at all times except when patrons are actively eating or drinking, according to the theater’s website. It announced the new requirements on Facebook Aug. 23.

In late July, Montclair Orchestra’s president told Montclair Local the organization would likely require vaccination for its upcoming fall season. The theater confirmed Friday it would accept proof via an original vaccination card or the New Jersey or New York apps. Masks will be required by all patrons.

Outpost in the Burbs announced last month it will require proof of vaccination for all of its fall shows, with a vaccination record dated at least 14 days prior to a show. Photocopies and cell phone photos will be accepted, but the venue won’t accept a negative coronavirus test.