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The City Journals

The show must go on at Draper Historic Theatre

Jul 01, 2020 12:52PM ● By Katherine Weinstein

Macy Rhees, Elliott Rodgers and Jillian Smith strike a pose in the Lamplight Theatre Co. production of “Pippin” at Draper Historic Theatre. (Photo courtesy Casey Dean/Draper Historic Theatre)

By Katherine Weinstein | [email protected]

“We’ve got magic to do just for you/ We’ve got miracle plays to play/ We’ve got parts to perform, hearts to warm….”

These lyrics from the musical “Pippin” capture the current mood at Draper Historic Theatre. The community theater shut its doors in March with the rise of the COVID-19 pandemic but reopened in June with a highly successful benefit concert, “Quarantunes.” This month, Lamplight Theatre Co. will present Stephen Schwartz’s quirky pop musical “Pippin” July 10-27.

In light of the ongoing pandemic, productions at Draper Historic Theatre are resuming with measures in place to reduce the risk of illness for both cast members and audiences.

“We’re keeping socially distant during rehearsals,” explained “Quarantunes” director Lindsay Simons. The actors are making use of a variety of spaces for rehearsals including the outdoor area behind the theater.

Social distancing measures are in place for audiences as well. The first row of seats closest to the stage will be left vacant and actors will not perform in the aisles as they have in the past. People will be seated in every other row and parties will be separated by two seats. Audience members are encouraged to wear face masks.

To avoid crowding in the lobby during intermission, the concession stand will be closed. The plan is to offer aisle concessions instead which audience members can purchase using phone apps like Venmo. In this way, theater volunteers will not have to handle cash and food items at the same time.

Like many arts organizations, Draper Historic Theatre suffered a financial blow as a result of being closed for three months. Last month’s musical revue, “Quarantunes,” was envisioned from the start as a fundraiser for the theater. The show also lifted the collective spirit of the theater’s community. “It was so good to be back in rehearsals and having something to work towards again,” Simons said.

Even before the pandemic Simons had an idea to put together a benefit concert. “All funds would go straight to the theater,” she said. “I live about a mile from [Draper Historic Theatre], it’s my theater. I see so much potential there and I wanted to get involved.” Her children have performed in Draper Historic Theatre productions such as “A Christmas Carol.”

Many in the local theater community were enthusiastic about the production and eager to get back on stage. To Simons’ surprise, 45 people auditioned for the musical revue.

“Quarantunes” was comprised of both solo and ensemble numbers from musicals such as “Hamilton,” “Finding Neverland,” “Les Misérables” and “The Greatest Showman.” Simons explained that they chose the song “From Now On” from “The Greatest Showman” because of its theme of returning home. “A lot of performers here have said that they’ve missed being home on stage. This was coming home for them,” Simons said.

Audiences were ready to welcome them back. “Quarantunes” played to sold out houses for the entire run. The opening night of the concert was livestreamed online as well.

This month Lamplight Theatre Co. will stage “Pippin” at Draper Historic Theatre.

“I think that people are longing for theater to come back—people who like to see shows and those who love to perform,” said Casey Dean, director of the Lamplight Theatre Co. production of the classic 1970’s musical “Pippin.” Lamplight Theatre Co. operates under the umbrella of Draper Historic Theatre.

The plot of “Pippin” involves a troupe of performers, led by a leading player, telling the story of a young prince on a quest to discover the meaning of life. Along the way he is drawn into a war, joins a circus and falls in love.

“Pippin doesn’t want to be ordinary,” Dean said. “So he joins the circus. But then he learns that being extraordinary isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.” In the end, the prince has to make a choice about how to live his life.

Composer Stephen Schwartz, who is renowned for penning musicals such as “Godspell” and “Wicked” wrote the music and lyrics. Dean noted that audiences who are familiar with those shows will recognize some of the same musical themes in “Pippin.” 

“Pippin” involves elements of circus and stage magic. The Lamplight Theatre Co. production will feature aerialist performances and illusions as well as stage combat and quick costume changes.

“We’re excited to bring this show to people,” Dean said. “The cast is ready to get back into it. Their dedication is amazing.”

“Pippin” runs July 10, 11, 13, 17, 18, 20, 24, 25 and 27 beginning at 7 p.m. A matinee will be held July 18 at 2 p.m. Draper Historic Theatre is located at 12366 S. 900 East. For performance times and tickets, visit www.drapertheatre.org or call 801-572-4144.