Now that COVID-19 restrictions for performances have been lifted, we asked our local performing arts organizations about their plans for returning to live performances and what their 2021–2022 season might look like. Here’s what they said.
We are excited to get back to live theatre with a bang. We are currently ironing out our plans to have a full season of five main shows with some added surprises. The 2021–2022 season will debut in the fall. Information will be posted on our website as plans are finalized. When we went dark in 2020, we were in the middle of celebrating our 75th Anniversary Season. Instead of canceling the final three shows we were unable to showcase, we decided to postpone them and stage them as soon as we were able. We are really looking forward to presenting these shows after so long and have added some new shows to complete the season.
We have also been working hard to enhance the theatrical experience for both volunteers and audience alike. While we have been dark, we have been remodeling our lobby and making other upgrades and improvements to make the theatre shine for another 75 years. We will be offering beer and wine for the first time at all our shows and events. We are excited to be able to highlight local brewers and winemakers at our theatre.
As we prepare for a return to live theatre, we encourage everyone to get involved. We welcome volunteers of all abilities and backgrounds. No experience is necessary. Please visit RichlandPlayers.org to get connected and stay up to date.
Of all of the performing arts disciplines, choir — by its nature of being a communal singing activity that produces increased aerosols — was particularly hard hit by COVID-19. The Mid-Columbia Mastersingers were diligent and measured in our response and did not resume in-person rehearsals until May of this year. In doing so, we met outdoors and limited ensembles to 15 people at a time. Singers were required to wear masks and stand six feet apart as prescribed at that time by the WA State Performing Arts Guidelines.
We are looking forward to participating in several community partner events this summer, including performances at Art in the Park by Allied Arts on July 23; a Celebration of Community, Diversity, and Culture by the Tri-Cities Diversity & Inclusion Council on August 7; and a belated 75th anniversary commemoration with the Manhattan Project National Historical Park of the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima on August 9. All of these events are being held outdoors which eases some of the challenges of masking and spacing protocols that we continue to weigh on behalf of the organization.
Programming efforts for the upcoming 2021–2022 are underway, but slower and more cautious than in past years. We continue to monitor evolving state and federal guidelines so we can ensure a safe environment for our singers and audience, especially as we start to head indoors when the weather turns this fall.
With new Managing Director Lori Fregin at the helm, we will continue to roll out plans for the season and invite the community to follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and our new website at mcmastersingers.org for updates.
Oh, and come sing with us at BEER CHOIR outdoors at Paper Street Brewing on July 24 at 6:00pm!
The Rude Mechanicals have been active during the COVID-19 pandemic by providing multiple productions online. We started last spring, 2020, with Idris Goodwin’s series Free Play: Open Source Scripts for an Antiracist Tomorrow. We shared these plays on our YouTube channel with thousands of views, and we continue to produce online productions, focusing on work by women, nonbinary artists, and artists of color. We’ve had the opportunity to work with professionals from the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, The Guthrie, and from New York City, creating a wonderful collaboration between our local talent and professionals we might not have otherwise been able to work with. Visit us at rmtheatre.org for links and more information.
Because there are still some unknowns with the pandemic, we have decided to wait until December for our first live show, a return of our annual readers’ theatre production of A Christmas Carol. This will give us time to develop new rehearsal and performance protocols and ensure we are working within the appropriate guidelines.
In Winter 2022, we plan to produce a Shakespeare variety show, All is Fair in Love and War, highlighting the most famous and favorite scenes from Shakespeare’s plays. In Summer 2022, we will begin what we hope to be an annual ‘Shakespeare in the Park’ festival, performing Shakespeare for everyone in our community in parks in the Tri-Cities and Walla Walla areas.
In spite of the popularity of Mid-Columbia Ballet’s 2020 COVID-19 edition movie, Clara’s Tri-Cities Nutcracker Dream, we know that many of you are looking forward to our more traditional, live version of The Nutcracker. You’ll be pleased to know that with COVID-19 restrictions for performances lifted, Mid-Columbia Ballet will be back on stage this December performing the holiday treat that you know and love. But wait! The really good news is that we will be performing for you in the newly remodeled Richland High School Auditorium! Mark your calendars for December 10–12 so you don’t miss this exciting production.
We are also excited to be able to host our annual Fundraising and Donor Recognition Event, The Garden Party, on Saturday August 21, 2021 at 7:30pm at the REACH museum. Join us in person for an evening of small bites, beverages including wines and microbrews, and dance vignettes. We will also celebrate the enormous artistic endeavors that were made to keep dance alive during the 2020–2021 season. This event is sponsored by Banner Bank and catered by CG Public House, with wines by Kiona Vineyards, Frichette Winery, Market Vineyards, Goose Ridge Estate Vineyard & Winery, and microbrews by Bale Breaker Brewing Company. Tickets are available at midcolumbiaballet.org or 509-946-5417. All proceeds will benefit the programs of the Mid-Columbia Ballet.
MCMT is excited about returning to live performances and is planning a performance in November 2021. Watch for audition notices for The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee in January for performances in mid-Spring 2022. The 2022–2023 season has not been finalized but will include The Fantasticks.
ACT is excited to be starting our 26th season in the fall! In dealing with our changing and challenging safety conditions, ACT has decided to move forward with flexible show options.
Our fall plays will be originally crafted princess stories for audiences of all ages! These shows will focus on updating the tales for a contemporary audience and contemporary ideals. We will be presenting the shows with limited capacity in our building for vaccinated patrons and streaming our shows in the upcoming season for our unvaccinated families. This will be true for all of our shows this season, including our musical revue All Together Now (featuring songs from many Broadway favorite shows), an original adaptation of Robin Hood next winter, and hopefully a return next spring to full houses and live musicals with The Lion King Jr!
Because we care the most about our kids and families, we are placing a high priority on returning to the theatre as safely as we possibly can. In crafting our new plays, we will be looking to find ways to continue offering new and exciting plays while creating an environment where people can feel like they are welcomed and able to express themselves. Our new season will be full of change, but we are ready to meet those challenges.
Our 2021–22 season:
September: The Immigrant Garden ~ Letters, a beautifully written, two-act staged reading, is set in 1910–1911. Told through an exchange of letters between 17-year-old Cecily Barnes of Washington, and 70-something Louise Beauchamp of Yorkshire, this is the story of an English garden and the hearts that grew it — a joyous conversation via letters between the women, which grows into a friendship transcending time and oceans. Candace Andrews is directing.
November: MTI's All Together Now!, a global event celebrating local theatre, is a musical revue featuring songs from MTI's beloved shows accompanied by live musicians.
February: Eve Ensler’s The Vagina Monologues includes 16 monologues and group pieces which encourage women to celebrate the sacredness of their bodies, and explore the impact of women losing autonomy over their bodies. Performances include mature language. Kimberly A. Starr is directing.
March: This season’s bonus offering is Magic Beans, kids' music artist Eric Herman's new musical, theatrical, magical, and beanical stage show, featuring his Puppy Dogs band and a spectacle of video projections, comedy sketches, and music. This show promises to be a unique experience for kids and families.
May: The Boys Next Door is a poignant play which follows the lives of four men who live with various mental disabilities and explores the themes of acceptance and respect. Bill Campbell is directing.
The MCS had hoped to return to live performances on July 4 with a free-to-the-public (donations appreciated) live concert in John Dam Plaza in Richland, but the extreme heat forced a cancellation. We are still hoping to reschedule, perhaps on Labor Day weekend, if the weather is favorable and enough of our orchestra musicians are available.
Looking forward to next season, we would like to put on a Halloween-themed concert on Saturday, October 30, if we are able to confirm a suitable venue. As many readers may know, our regular venue, the RHS auditorium, underwent major renovation this past year and won’t be available in the fall. Looking forward to winter and spring, we would like to have a three-concert mini season with a tentative date of February 5 or 6 for the first concert.
Our musicians are really looking forward to being able to perform in front of an audience again. The Youth Symphony continued its educational efforts virtually this past year and will return to its regular course work and live performances this coming year.
Information about upcoming events and ticket sales will be available on the symphony’s web site as soon as we can confirm the dates.
Ted Miller grew up around the world but now lives in Richland with his wife. He’s a runner, actor, singer, nuclear engineer, and graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy.
Ted believes that if more people worked toward love and understanding instead of giving in to fear and divisiveness, the world would be a better place.
Photo by Kyle Head on Unsplash