The KMC Onstage Theater on Kleber Kaserne sat dark, the stage empty and silent for more than six months because of COVID-19.
After six weeks of rehearsal in February and March, the pandemic hammer fell on the youth show, “Dinosaurs Before Dark,” and it had to be cancelled.
“Based on the German government, and then the Army’s mandate to follow host nation guidelines, we actually cancelled the show on opening night. The kids and parents were heartbroken,” said Eric Danzeiser, KMC Onstage manager. “Luckily for us, most of the kids are still in the community and we were able to postpone it until now. And most of the kids still fit in their costumes!”
Since the theater reopened in July, the main stage has been busy. The sounds of rehearsal for two different shows ring out into the parking lot as local volunteer actors sing, dance and rehearse dialogue for the opening of the new season.
Naythen Rinehart is one of the directors (along with Becca Davis) of the musical comedy, “Disaster,” the other show rehearsing on the main stage.
“It’s a compilation of almost every disaster movie made in the ‘70s,” Rinehart said. “There’s tidal waves, electrocutions, fires, rats, piranhas, sharks and it’s all done around the disco music of the ‘70s. There’s a bunch of singing and dancing with a lot of surprises and a lot of recognizable music.”
While the cloud of the pandemic casts a shadow over the productions, the show must go on. Cast members in all shows are wearing facemasks or face shields, maintain physical distance, and will wear masks for performances.
“That makes dancing and intimate moments difficult,” laughed Rinehart.
“Expression is a large part of acting,” said Matt Davis, “Disaster” actor. “So, it will be even more difficult for actors’ expressions to come across with masks, so we’re working hard on that in rehearsal.”
Returning theater-goers will notice some obvious differences from previous shows. Audience members will be spaced far enough apart within the seating area to meet physical distancing requirements.
“There will be no congregating in the lobby before a show or during intermission,” Danzeiser said. “They will come in the front door to pick up or buy their tickets and get drinks and then they have to leave the building.”
Audience members will wait outside until show time and will then enter the building through one of three emergency exits on side doors based on their assigned seats.
“Family units may sit together, but non-family units must have the six-foot space between them and that works out that we can seat every other row. Based on our calculations, that means we lose about a third of our audience each show,” Danzeiser added.
An extra show has been added on Saturday afternoons to accommodate additional audience members.
The youth program show, “Dinosaurs Before Dark,” runs Sept. 4-6, Sept. 11-13 and Sept. 18-20. The cost is $12 for front seats, $10 for middle seats and $8 for back seats.
An Evening of One Act plays will run Sept. 25-27 and October 2-4 at the KCAC on Daenner Kaserne.
The musical comedy, “Disaster,” runs Oct. 16-18, 23-25, 30-Nov. 1 and Nov. 6-8. Tickets cost $15 for front seats, $12 for middle seats and $10 for back seats.
Reservations are highly recommended for shows due to the limited seating. Reserve tickets for all shows by calling 0631-411-6626.
For a complete schedule of upcoming shows and audition schedules, or to inquire about the youth acting classes in October, visit the KMC Onstage Facebook page.