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Kansas City Symphony and Lyric Opera spread holiday cheer and lift some COVID restrictions for kids

Don Ipock
At the Kansas City Symphony's Christmas Fest, Santa often makes an early appearance as pictured here with Associate Conductor Jason Seber (at left).

The Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts allows unvaccinated audience members to bring in a negative PCR test within 72 hours of a performance. Now, two of the resident companies are following suit — for unvaccinated children under 12.

The Kansas City Symphony and the Lyric Opera of Kansas City will soon be making an exception on some COVID-19 restrictions for select dates of holiday shows.

As of Sept. 6, the resident companies at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts have only admitted fully vaccinated individuals, with proof of vaccination, for performances. Since Kansas City's mask mandate was lifted, masks are now strongly encouraged.

Next, starting in December, unvaccinated kids under 12 who have a negative PCR test can be accompanied by a vaccinated adult. Masks for unvaccinated children will be required.

“We do desire to perform for families," said Kansas City Symphony executive director Danny Beckley. "And the holiday season is our best opportunity to do that."

He added, “And so to loosen our restrictions to allow children to attend was important, and we did that by inviting children to come from vaccinated households.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Nov. 4 recommended a low dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5 through 11. Kansas and Missouri adopted the CDC guidance, but doses only started to be widely available this week in the metro area.

Related: Where to get the COVID-19 vaccine for kids in the Kansas City area

“Even if kids get vaccinated in the next week or two,” said Kansas City Symphony executive director Danny Beckley, “the time it takes between doses and the time that it takes after you've received your second shot, it would still be very unlikely that they could come if we didn't put in some kind of policy like this.”

The Kansas City Symphony will open four performances to unvaccinated children under 12 with a negative PCR test to Christmas Festival shows and to Home Alone, a film screening accompanied by the Symphony's live performance of the John Williams score.

Christmas Festival features the Symphony, the Symphony Chorus, as well as Broadway singer and actress Ashley Brown, with Christmas carols and a visit from Santa. Performance dates include Dec. 18 at 1 p.m. and Dec. 19 at 2 p.m.

Home Alone, with actor Macauley Culkin as an 8-year-old boy left behind to battle thieves when his family goes on Christmas vacation, will also be offered on two dates, Dec. 23 at 7 p.m. and Dec. 24 at 11 a.m.

Only fully vaccinated individuals will be admitted for all other Symphony performances at the Kauffman Center, including Handel's Messiah.

Don Ipock
A panoramic view of Lyric Opera of Kansas City's production of "Amahl and the Night Visitors" at the Frost Production Arts Building.

The Lyric Opera of Kansas City will open performances of Amahl and the Night Visitors, Dec. 2–12 at a smaller performance space, the Lyric’s Michael and Ginger Frost Production Arts Building. It seats about 200 and is located at 712 E. 18th Street.

The Lyric collaborated with puppeteer Paul Mesner on this production of Menotti’s Christmas opera, which tells the story of the Three Kings as they travel to Bethlehem bearing gifts — and a stop they make along the way.

“We were so heartbroken to have canceled live performances last year after we all worked so very hard to create this world premiere,” the Lyric’s general director and CEO Deborah Sandler said in a release. “Now, we cannot wait to welcome families back for live, in-person performances of our holiday production.”

Previously, the Symphony and the Lyric only admitted fully vaccinated individuals to performances. And, to date, the Kansas City Ballet has confirmed it will maintain these protocols for productions of The Nutcracker at the Kauffman Center, Dec. 3 - 24.

As for the rest of the 2021-2022 season, it’s likely that COVID-19 restrictions will tighten up again after the holiday shows for all the resident companies.

“You know, COVID, I think it's going to be with us for a long, long time,” said the Symphony’s Danny Beckley. “And so for right now, under the conditions that we're in, vaccination requirement is going to continue.”

Kansas City is known for its style of jazz, influenced by the blues, as the home of Walt Disney’s first animation studio and the headquarters of Hallmark Cards. As one of KCUR’s arts reporters, I want people here to know a wide range of arts and culture stories from across the metropolitan area. I take listeners behind the scenes and introduce them to emerging artists and organizations, as well as keep up with established institutions. Send me an email at lauras@kcur.org or follow me on Twitter @lauraspencer.
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