Reopening in-person theatre has been a precarious notion throughout the later stages of the pandemic. School and community theatres seem more eager to reopen than professional productions, but as we move into fall, there are all levels of theatre reopening. I was able to experience a few in-person theatre productions this spring & summer, and I wanted to relive those experiences with you.
Back on April 29, my school’s theatre department held socially-distanced, masks-required performances of their one act play selection, People, Places, and Things. It was so strange and amazing to be back in a theatre seat waiting for the lights to go down. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have a few tears about it. The students put on an excellent production and I know they were thrilled to be performing for an audience again.
On June 18, long after school was out, I went with some coworkers to see one of our school’s choir directors in Garland Summer Musicals‘ production of Grease. This was my first time seeing a musical since February of 2020 and to be in a packed community theatre was a little weird. It turned out to be a great experience and the show was really great!
Then on July 16, Jonathan and I went to Dallas Theater Center‘s production of Working. This regional theatre company performed at an outdoor theatre space in Texas in July, and what they were able to do in that kind of heat was incredible. They took the original concept of the show about the working people of America, and added in interviews from local front-line workers and really tied the show into the experience of local workers during the pandemic. It was really well-done and even despite the sweat rolling everywhere and the mosquitos, we really enjoyed the show.
Then in late July, I went to NYC with my friend Lynette. Broadway wasn’t really open yet (except for Bruce Springsteen, and we’re not dropping that kind of money), but we still found some shows to get into for that trip. On July 29th, our first night in the city, we went to the off-Broadway production of The Office! A Musical Parody. Masks were required for this performance at the time (and now full vaccination is required for all shows in NYC). They somehow squeezed 9 seasons of characters and gags into two acts with a very small cast. It was hilarious!
The next night (July 30), we went to see a different kind of off-Broadway show – Drunk Shakespeare. As the show’s title suggests, one member of a company of actors takes a few consecutive shots of alcohol and the company performs a work of Shakespeare (Macbeth at this performance) whilst hilarity ensues. This show required all attendees to be fully vaccinated, so masks were not required. The stage and seating area is small and intimate and we were sat on the edge of the stage. I was even handed a puppet to play Lennox for a few minutes! It was really a fun night!
Our final show in NYC was August 1st at Feinstein’s/54 Below for the cabaret style performance of John Cardoza entitled Things I Learned from My Roadtrip Playlist. The evening was a musical and storytelling journey that made us laugh and cry. John invited several Broadway friends to join him onstage including Lauren Patten, Sam Gravitte, Christiane Noll, and Gabrielle Carrubba. It was a truly magical night of music. If you’ve never seen a show here, you absolutely should! Food & drinks were great, and the intimate atmosphere is just incredible.
Wicked was the first national tour to reopen, and they happened to reopen here in Dallas. Being back at Music Hall at Fair Park as Dallas Summer Musicals subscribers was pretty special. We went as a family on August 7th, and then I went again on August 26th as a social event with the Associate Producers, the young professionals group for DSM. Somehow I had never seen Wicked before this, and though I had heard enough music to know I would love it, it hits as especially relevant in this time of racial reckoning during a pandemic. It was a wonderful show.
Fall is shaping up to have more incredible live theatre experiences so be sure to come back for those updates. They will probably be monthly now that things are picking up!