Actors' Playhouse opens the Miracle Theatre for its first live stage production since the pandemic hit, a holiday show, "Madeline's Christmas."
Earl Maulding, Actors Playhouse Musical Theater for Young Audiences Director, said he has staged the show in a way that keeps to safety protocols, both on stage and for the audience.
"Everyone is always six feet apart on stage and we're very careful to not have people traveling close to one another when they are on stage."
There are 12 children and 3 adult performers in the production.
"The opening number was a challenge. I have 12 little girls and then one adult in the opening section, so to keep them safe in the space I had to adjust what I would normally do with the show, but it is necessary to keep everyone safe," Maulding said.
Performers also don't do the usual backstage costume changes because of the pandemic. Instead, they wear multi-layers, which allows only one costume per performer.
For the ensemble of girls, the young performers will wear multi-layers, a nightgown, school uniform, and a coat, hat and muff. As the scenes progress, so do the layers as they peel away to reveal another costume.
Maulding said there is one point when the performers have to go backstage and hang their coats.
But they go to specific places assigned to them to hang their coats and everything is six feet apart.
Precautions and protocol have been put in place for the audience inside Actors' Playhouse theater.
It is in the sprawling 600-seat mainstage, but it will only be sold at 30 percent capacity. That means there will only be 200 audiences at most in the theater
"We've instituted parameters," said Maulding. Every other row will be empty and seats will be blocked off in between theatergoers who are not in the same family group. Everyone in the audience must wear a mask.
The front row of the theater is closed off so that the performers are not in close contact with the audience. Aisles are marked one way and, at the end of the performances, Maulding will come onstage to instruct the audience when they can exit their row so that people aren't all leaving at one time.
Maulding said "approximately half of the performers had been in summer camp or they were in our youth repertory company Our Musical Miracles. That group meets on Saturdays nine months a year. It's very advanced. To participate, they need to audition."
Before committing to doing a holiday show, Actors' Playhouse queried patrons about their comfortability attending a live theater during a pandemic. "We did a survey of our regular attendee to see if this was something they'd be interested in with proper safety protocols in place," Maudling said. "And they said they were. We've had a good response to ticket sales."
"We're following every safety protocol. We just want to meet costs and be able to present live theater. It's so important that we keep things flowing," he said.
The show is kept short, too, with a run of about 60 minutes.
"We think for audiences, this will be an escape from everything they've been dealing with and they can sit in a darkened theater and become involved in a story that will take them away. And kids as well. Kids are cooped up at home, right now. For the young ladies that are performing, these young people are hungry to learn and grow in their craft and we've had a lot of thank you's from parents for that."
"Madeline's Christmas," Actors Playhouse at the Miracle Mile TheatreMainstage, 280 Miracle Mile, Coral Gables, Fl.
Performances will be held on Saturdays at 2 p.m. from December 5 through Dec. 19, 2020. A special holiday performance is scheduled for Sunday, December 20, 2020 at 5 p.m.
Individual tickets, $25.