BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) - South Mississippi community theaters continue to struggle to safely return to the stage. Center Stage Biloxi, like most theaters on the Gulf Coast, is closed due to COVID-19. Most of these theaters have been closed since March, leaving a void in South Mississippi.
“The arts as a whole has been hit maybe the hardest. I mean, look at Broadway. Look at all of these venues where people have relied on the public to come together to view something. Now they can’t do that," said Center Stage Board Member Kennedy Miazza.
Miazza and other members of the Center Stage Board of Directors canceled the remainder of the shows for this year.
“Trying to hold on to the theater, and be able to pay our utilities, being to pay our workers, we’re just relying on everybody to not forget about us," she said.
So Center Stage created Guardian Patron Sponsorships to include tickets to shows that they hope to put on stage early next year. Biloxi Little Theatre President Teresa Johnson said her theater is also doing everything in its power to stay relevant.
“It’s safer to do things online now than in person. We have ‘Gleeful Celebration’ coming up, which we do every year for the last nine years. We’re doing a virtual Christmas party and scavenger hunt, and we have ‘You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown’ coming up, which will be a hybrid live/virtual performance," Johnson said. “The first thing that you’re going to see, that you’ve probably never seen before is performers in masks. We are practicing every safety precaution that we can wrap our minds around. We have singers masks that were designed by engineers and technicians on Broadway. They’re designed to help singers safely sing in each other’s presence and in the audience’s presence," she said.
It seems a new era is beginning for theater around the world, and South Mississippi’s actors want to make sure that their fans understand one thing.
“Their safety and the safety of our volunteers is the most important things to us. Art and entertainment comes second. Those are still very important but we have to keep people safe," Johnson told WLOX.