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(DEC 8. 2020 | RED BANK) The Count Basie Center for the Arts has announced the reopening of Hackensack Meridian Health Theatre, employing an elevated flooring platform which will allow patrons to sit at seated, socially-distant tables and enjoy performances in the Center’s 94-year old historic venue.

The venue’s new Pop-Up Stage configuration extends the length of the theater stage nearly halfway across the room, providing the space necessary to seat up to 150 patrons at cabaret-style tables. Like the Basie Center’s new performance space, The Vogel, Pop-Up Stage performances will be presented with strict COVID-19 safety measures in place:

  • Shows will be seated with tables sold in “Table For Two,” “Table For Four” and “Table For Six” configurations only.
  • Tables will be positioned 6’ apart, with the front row of tables 12’ from the performers.
  • Only 150 seats will be available for performances at this time.
  • Drinks and concessions will be sold table-side; i.e.: no lining up at bars.
  • Patrons must wear masks at all times while inside the theater, except when actively eating or drinking.
  • Patrons are expected to abide by social distancing norms.
  • Temperatures will be taken at the door. Patrons with a body temperature of 100.4 or higher will not be permitted to enter. A refund will be issued.
  • Fans must remain seated at their purchased table, unless using the restroom or exiting.
  • There is no re-entry.
  • For nights with two shows, entry for the second show will begin once the previous crowd is cleared and the venue is cleaned / sanitized.
  • For late shows, New Jersey mandates bar service must cease at 10pm. Last call will be 9:45pm.
  • Tables will not be permitted to be split and resold. Patrons holding resold tickets will be denied entry and refunds will not be offered.
  • Patrons will be required to remain seated, unless getting up to leave or use restrooms.
  • Restrooms will be limited to two (2) patrons at a time.
  • Tables will not be permitted to be split and resold. Patrons holding resold tickets will be denied entry and refunds will not be offered.
  • These events will utilize Ticketmaster’s touch-less, mobile entry system. No paper tickets will be accepted.
  • Patrons will be required to remain seated, unless getting up to leave or use restrooms.
  • Venue security will enforce ground rules, which will follow current CDC and State of New Jersey guidelines for indoor events.

The opening allows the beleaguered Basie to continue its efforts to create revenue as it crawls from the hardships of an 8-month closure due to the pandemic.

“When Governor Murphy announced in October that performance venues could reopen, we immediately started to think of the safest, most economical way to present performances in our historic theater,” said Adam Philipson, President / CEO, Count Basie Center for the Arts. “The “Pop-Up Stage” configuration is a cool and unique set-up we’ve used at galas, but more importantly, it allows us to achieve the distancing measures we’ve found to be key in the success of presenting shows next door at The Vogel.”

The Basie Center debuted The Vogel, its second performance space, in October. Both venues, as well as the Basie’s Academy of the Arts, Monmouth Conservatory of Music and Basie Center Cinemas facilities operate under the organization’s strict COVID-19 operations guide, which has been endorsed by Hackensack Meridian Health’s Keeping America Safe Program. In addition to personnel and patron protocols, the organization has put in place strict sanitation, cleaning and operational procedures in accordance to local, state and federal (CDC) regulations.

“The Count Basie Center for the Arts has lost in excess of $8 million since the onset of the pandemic,” Philipson said. “Producing these performances, as well as holding safe and socially distant onsite classes and films at Basie Center Cinemas, is crucial to our survival. But none of this is possible without safety being at the forefront of everything we do. We’re as dedicated to creating and maintaining safe environments as we are in our mission to inspire, educate and entertain through the arts.”

The opening of the Pop-Up Stage at the Basie Center’s Hackensack Meridian Health Theatre will also give patrons a glimpse at the east side of the Basie’s recent expansion, which includes a new lobby and arts plaza.

The first performance in the Pop-Up Stage configuration will be local artist Chris Pinnella on Saturday, Dec. 19. Tickets go on sale Friday at 10am through theBASIE.org. Pop-Up Stage performances at the Basie’s Hackensack Meridian Health Theatre are made possible by the Monmouth County Freeholders.