About a year ago, the Lincoln City Playhouse was preparing for several performances in March 2020. But the local youth theatre group quickly learned that performances of any kind would not be possible do to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Now, a year later, the Playhouse is ready to get back on stage as they prep for a full weekend of shows this April.
Over the past year, Lincoln City Playhouse Director Karen Sanquist said she has keeping in contact with her theatre members through texts and Facebook chats. Sanquist said she even hosted a socially distant Halloween party with the theatre crew in their new home in Otis.
“We just wanted to make sure the kids knew that they weren’t forgotten,” Sanquist said.
With schools across the state of Oregon preparing to get back in the classroom and into extra curricular activities, Sanquist felt it was a great time to get kids back on stage.
The Lincoln City Playhouse held auditions for their next performance a few weeks ago, and much to the delight of the director, Sanquist said they had 28 kids audition, which was a little above their average.
“I was really hoping for maybe 10-15 kids,” Sanquist said. “I know a lot of it is parents wanting to get there kids involved in things again and the kids as well. They’ve all missed not being in school and seeing their friends.”
For their first play of 2021, the theatre group will be performing Alyse in Wonderland: steampunk style. The play was written by Jo Storm Lane, a theatre teacher and director at Roosevelt High School in Portland. Jo Storm Lee also happens to be a close friend of Sanquist who made several costumes for the original performance in which her daughter played mini Alyse.
“As soon as (Jo Storm Lane) found out we were starting the Playhouse up, she offered it to us. Because we are kind of starting over again and don’t have a budget at all, we felt that it would be the perfect time to take it on,” Sanquist said.
The Playhouse has started some fundraising for costumes and props and hosts rehearsals two days a week, one virtual and one in person at the Lincoln City Cultural Center.
“Our original plan with this play was to do everything over Zoom and then have all the kids come to our house individually to record it and do a Facebook event,” Sanquist said. “But after talking with the Cultural Center, who was allowed to reopen to limited capacity, we decided to do a one weekend show.
“The Cultural Center offered us a time slot one day a week to rehearse, and we thought it was great because it’s so much easier to do rehearsals on the stage that you will be performing on.”
As of right now, the Lincoln City Playhouse is planning four shows starting April 2 with two shows on April 3 and one show on April 4. Tickets will be on sale March 1 for $10 for adults and $5 for kids. They will be available on the Cultural Center website.
Right now, the group is planning to have 25 audience members per performance, but that number is subject to change based on the COVID-19 guidelines. But for those still at home, the Lincoln City Playhouse will be offering tickets to a live stream of the performance in a private facebook group. It’ll be the group’s first live streamed performance.
“We’re hoping that will get us a little more participation within our audience so grandparents and family wherever can watch it,” Sanquist said.
Currently doing one virtual and one in person rehearsal a week, the Lincoln City Playhouse has had to adjust to the new restrictions and guidelines that pertain to the COVID-19 pandemic. Guidelines include mandatory face covering use, doing temperature checks, asking health related questions before each meeting and of course, frequent cleaning. The Cultural Center also has a 24 hour period in between events.
“We also turn on Zoom during the in person meeting so that way even if a someone can’t be there that day they can still watch and participate,” Sanquist said.
Although all the speaking roles have been filled, Sanquist said there are still supporting roles available and other options for anyone looking to get involved.
“We can always take on a few more kids,” Sanquist said. “The big thing is that we make sure we have space on stage to keep everyone socially distanced.”
Sanquist said anyone interested can reach out to her personally or on the Lincoln City Playhouse Facebook page. The public can also reach out to her to make donations for costumes and sets.
“I think having theatre right now is important for several reasons,” Sanquist said. “One is to make sure they know that they have friends and kids their own age to reach out to. Also, with kids being isolated and being at home, being able to get involved in an activity can really push them past their boundaries to get to know people who are going to support them and be there for them.”