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Gray Areas: ‘King Lear’ will be presented as online miniseries

Assorted ramblings from the world of entertainment:

• In the age of binge watching, director Michael Dempsey is turning “King Lear” into a five-week miniseries.

Act I of the William Shakespeare tragedy will debut Aug. 1 on Facebook and YouTube with the other four acts following each Saturday through Aug. 29.

The production originally was planned as a live performance that would have been staged at Youngstown State University earlier this month as part of its Summer Festival of the Arts. When the festival (and live theater and just about everything else) was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Dempsey reimagined the show as an online production, where most of the actors would be filmed individually to maintain social distancing.

One advantage to an online staging is that it expanded the audition pool. In addition to local talent, it will include performers from around the United States (and the United Kingdom).

“King Lear,” originally announced as a Mahoning Valley Players production and now being presented by Dempsey’s Smash Up Entertainment, is being presented in weekly installments to allow extra time for the editing, color correcting and other technical demands of an online event.

Look for a full preview in next week’s Ticket.

• The Struts will play a concert at Starlight Drive-In in Butler, Pa., on Aug. 21.

If ever there was a band that could make a parking lot concert feel like a rock show, The Struts may be it.

Tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. Friday through Eventbrite, and tickets range from $150 to $300 per car with a four-person max per vehicle.

Comedian Bert Kreischer (Aug. 15) and country act Chase Rice (Aug. 16) also are booked there. Tickets for those shows are on sale now.

• Those may be the only kind of concerts featuring touring acts for the foreseeable future.

With the Beach Boys’ Aug. 26 show now canceled, Youngstown Foundation Amphitheatre will spend only its second year of existence empty for the entire summer.

The schedule at the Covelli Centre is empty until Dec.10, where the Impractical Jokers are on their third date for a Youngstown show. Late summer / early fall dates by comedian Jim Gaffigan and Judas Priest have been pushed to 2021.

The Robins Theatre in Warren is showing movies (the 50th anniversary of “Love Story” on Friday), but there won’t be a concert there until after Labor Day, at the earliest.

That Ace Frehley show announced in June for Aug. 11 now has been moved to April 9, 2021.

Packard Music Hall doesn’t have a concert on its schedule until .38 Special in October, and Stambaugh and Powers auditoriums have no live music with a firm date on their itineraries.

The news isn’t any better really in Cleveland or Pittsburgh markets. The schedule at Blossom Music Center is one cancellation after another. KISS still has some dates on its summer schedule, including an Aug. 28 show at S&T Bank Music Park in Burgettstown, Pa., but I’ll bet anyone a “Cold Gin” that the show doesn’t happen.

Foo Fighters, rescheduled to Oct. 3, is the only 2020 concert currently on the Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse lineup, and PPG Paints Arena will be dark until at least Oct. 30, when Five Finger Death Punch is booked.

U.S. Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and John Cornyn (R-Texas) introduced a relief bill Wednesday to help independent live music venues during the ongoing pandemic.

It asks for $10 billion that would be available in grants through the Small Business Administration to independent venue owners, promoters and bookers with narrow parameters.

Those industries are in their fifth month with no income and, frankly, no indication that will change anytime soon.

Andy Gray is the entertainment editor of Ticket. Write to him at agray@ tribtoday.com

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