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Community theatre says ‘the show must go on’ as COVID-19 pandemic continues

Some people are still choosing to stay home - whether that’s because they don’t want to risk it or they don’t want to wear masks. It is bringing up some pressing questions.
Published: Sep. 15, 2021 at 6:56 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 15, 2021 at 8:10 PM EDT
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FORT MILL, S.C. (WBTV) - Industries all over the country suffered during the pandemic, including live theatre.

People probably remember Broadway completely shutting down at the beginning of the pandemic.

It is slowly coming back, but here at home - a local theatre is still struggling to keep up as the pandemic lingers.

The Fort Mill Community Playhouse has been open for more than 40 years and for about the last year and a half, the doors have been shuttered. The director of their latest play called it heartbreaking.

”Performing is my favorite thing in the whole world to do,” says actor Kristin Jann-Fischer.

Ask her and fellow actor Wayne Carter why community theatre is so important and it is not hard to figure out why they love it so much.

”Having accessible theatre, accessible affordable theatre is super important,” says Jann-Fischer.

”We’re helping people have fun and to forget their other problems is just amazing,” says Carter.

That is why it was tough when COVID-19 shut the doors of the Fort Mill Community Playhouse and these actors had to leave the stage.

”Not being able to do anything was really kind of trying for me because I didn’t have that outlet,” says Cater.

The show is back on the road. I Love You, Your Perfect, Now Change has a cast that’s ready to dazzle the crowds once again.

“Presented in the form of a series of vignettes that are connected by the central theme of love and relationships, this play is " Everything you have ever secretly thought about dating, romance, marriage, lovers, husbands, wives and in-laws, but were afraid to admit.”

”There’s something just so special about performing in a space that’s so intimate and really lovely,” says Jann-Fischer.

That intimacy is keeping some people away from the theatre though.

”It looks like it could be more gloom and doom,” says Director Scott Albert.

Albert says they are taking every precaution. Anyone coming to the show must wear a mask.

There are some masks at the door for people who forget to come with one. Hand sanitizer is everywhere and the entire front row stays empty to protect the maskless cast.

Albert says the people who have come to the theatre for the show so far have been extremely understanding. They have not had too many problems with getting people to wear masks.

They initiated the mandate because of how close the seats are in the theatre.

Most of the seats cannot be six feet apart and the director wants the seats to be filled for the great show. So to protect everyone, and their staff, the mandate is in place.

”We believe that the arts need to stay open. Need to be there,” says Albert.

Albert says some people are still choosing to stay home - whether that’s because they don’t want to risk it or they don’t want to wear masks. It is bringing up some pressing questions.

”This past Monday our board had a meeting asking are we going to be able to continue this weekend? Are we able to get through this show?” he says.

But the show must go on and it definitely has at the Playhouse and Albert says they will keep going for the community they love to serve.

”Knowing what we offer is not just live entertainment but it’s a feeling of hope. It’s a feeling of yes let’s get back to some normalcy,” says Albert.

The play is still going on this weekend with four opportunities to see the show - one show Friday, two Saturday and one Sunday.

If you cannot come out but still want to support the Community Playhouse takes donations as well. The theatre has a capital projects fund that will allow the playhouse to potentially get into a new, bigger space.

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