A production of “Forever Plaid” may be the first live theater in Minnesota since the COVID-19 pandemic shut down almost everything in March.
Mankato Playhouse is selling tickets for the musical, which will play July 31-Aug. 16, as well as a full season of musicals, including “The Addams Family” and “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum.” According to the theater’s website, it has put in place safety measures including operating at one-quarter capacity (as dictated by the state), selling dinner-and-show tickets on a table-by-table basis (rather than individual seats), installing hand sanitizer stations and using ticketless entry.
The musical, which had a long Minneapolis run at Hey City Stage, is a comic revue in which four doo-wop singers, who died en route to a gig, reunite to perform the set they would have performed if they had survived.
Some Mankato patrons seem willing to return to the theater. As of earlier this week, more than half the 21 tables had been sold for opening night (cost for dinner and the show works out to $50 per person, assuming a full table). Several tables also were booked for the first Saturday performance.
With many companies shuttered through the end of the year, a few American theaters have moved to get back in business. Alhambra Dinner Theatre in Jacksonville, Fla. has “Cinderella” on stage now, a production the Actors Equity union condemned as unsafe. In Massachusetts, Barrington Stage Company has opened a one-person show and instituted new procedures, including the removal of half the seats, enforcing social distancing and mask usage and creating new entrances.
Site of a recent spike in COVID-19 cases, Mankato also has sparked debate about the merits of reopening bars and has passed a mask ordinance that requires citizens to wear them in public indoor spaces.