As it is for everyone else, so it is for Plaza Theatre Co.
“Clearly we’re taking things day by day,” Plaza Artistic Director JaceSon Barrus said. “That’s because we’re following the COVID-19 situation like everyone else is. As of right now we’re planning to reopen to the public on June 5 and doing so in line with city and state safety guidelines as well as our own efforts for the safety of our patrons and cast.”
Plaza officials originally hoped to resume their production of “Little House on the Prairie,” the March closure of Plaza having interrupted the original run.
“We’re moving ‘House’ to later in the season,” Barrus said. “The reason is because that show has a pretty large cast and we want to cut down as much as possible right now the number of people in our theatre.”
Instead, if all goes well, Plaza will reopen with “Smoke on the Mountain,” a Plaza audience favorite, making its return.
“Ironically, ‘Smoke on the Mountain’ will now be playing during the same time it was scheduled to play this season anyway before this whole COVID-19 pandemic came about,” Barrus said. “It’s a smaller cast so that helps. We’ll also, on alternate dates through June, be bringing ‘Always Patsy Cline’ back. We had that last season and it was our second-most popular show ever after ‘White Christmas.’ Also, the cast from last season’s production have agreed to come back.”
In addition to extra cleaning and disinfecting, expect plenty of social distancing and fewer seats available once Plaza reopens.
“Because we’re not going to be selling all our seats for some time for obvious safety reasons we’re going to step up the number of performances we offer,” Barrus said. “We’ll also post our guidelines on safety measures and cleaning schedules because we want our patrons to know that their safety is important to us.”
Safety measures apply to staff and cast as well, Barrus said.
“We’re discussing social distancing and other measures with our cast,” Barrus said. “Backstage protocol and how they should interact with one another. We just want to keep everyone safe.”
Saturday night cruisin’
Although Plaza’s indoor facility remains closed to the public until June 5, live shows and other presentations remain plentiful and free in the meantime.
Plaza’s Drive-Up Theatre returns Saturday with the return of a crowd favorite.
“We’re bringing ‘Nifty ’50s’ back with the same cast who participated in it several weeks ago,” Barrus said. “It was our first Drive-Up Theatre production and the audience really seemed to enjoy it. This Saturday seems the appropriate time to bring it back because it’s looking like it might rain, just like it did the first time we did the show.”
Although admission is free, it’s also first-come, first-served. Patrons are required to remain in their vehicles with windows up during the performance, which will transmit over their radios.
The parking lot at Plaza, 305 S. Anglin St., opens at 7 p.m. The show, which lasts about an hour, begins at 8:30 p.m.
“That’s so the projectors can take affect for the images on the screens on either side of the stage once the sun goes down,” Barrus said.
The production includes a bevy of 1950’s pop and rock ‘n’ roll classics delivered by Plaza actors.
More Plaza Drive-Up productions are planned over the next few Saturdays.
Check Plaza’s Facebook page as well for daily video content.
“Today we’re starting a new series, “Plaza Green Room,”” Barrus said. “Through Zoom we’ll gather the cast of one of our past productions to discuss their thoughts and memories of that show. We’re kicking that off with the cast of “You’re A Good Man Charlie Brown,” which was our first production in 2007”
The online content has proved popular throughout the shutdown.
“We’ve definitely received good feedback from it,” Barrus said. “It’s something we’ll keep doing once we reopen our theater. Probably not to the degree of when we were closed, but it will still be there.”