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The City Journals

Sandy Arts Guild thinks we could all benefit from live theater—and a little ‘Nunsense’

Oct 12, 2020 01:43PM ● By Heather Lawrence

Cleanliness is next to godliness in the October production of “Nunsense” by Sandy Arts, where masks and social distancing will keep the actors and audience safe. (Sandy Arts Guild)

By Heather Lawrence | [email protected]

This fall, the Sandy Arts Guild celebrates their 35th anniversary. “We’ve really grown, and it’s because of community support. We started as a show behind an elementary school in 1985. Now, we perform near-professional productions several times a year and sponsor many other artistic endeavors,” said Mearle Marsh, the guild’s artistic director. 

Marsh is excited to direct the upcoming musical “Nunsense,” the first live Sandy show in seven months. It plays at the Theater at Mount Jordan Middle School Oct. 2-17. Marsh, a member of Actor’s Equity, has been part of Utah’s performing community since he was young. 

For those nervous about venturing out to a play, Marsh said they’re erring on the side of caution. “This is a COVID-safe production. The audience will wear masks and be seated in family groups apart from other groups. We’re selling tickets far below capacity. There won’t be concessions so people won’t be tempted to gather,” Marsh said. 

The musical itself was a COVID-conscious choice. “This show has a small cast. The main characters are singing and dancing nuns, which is just fun. But they’re also covered up, which limits exposure,” Marsh said. 

Safety for the actors, stage crew and audience was a priority through the entire process. “The actors wore masks during rehearsals. That was a challenge because nuns’ habits cover their ears. Our costumers figured out a way to sew a button loop onto the costumes so they could attach masks. 

“We also choreographed the show so that the actors could stay 6 feet apart from each other. And they wear masks anytime they are in the audience,” Marsh said. 

Elyse George, marketing director for Sandy Arts, said that choosing to hold a live show was a team decision. 

“The entire team came together to make this happen. We looked at the performance space and different plays. Our team includes (Sandy) Mayor (Kurt) Bradburn who is the CEO of Sandy Arts. He’s really supportive. No one pressured us to start performing again, and we’ve been given the resources we need,” George said.  

The crew was creative with those resources. “We’re reusing pieces from other shows, and there aren’t as many actors,” George said. 

‘Nunsense’—a title that plays on both the wit and nonsense of the characters—is about a group of nuns, the Little Sisters of Hoboken. Through a strange twist of events and a bad batch of French soup, the sisters find their numbers greatly diminished. They are left with many bodies to bury and no money to do it. So they decide to raise funds doing a variety show. 

“This show is full of belly laughs—the lines, the actors, everything is funny. We need to laugh right now because this year has been so stressful. All the actors were glad when we announced the show. They couldn’t wait to get back to performing,” Marsh said

Though this show will feel a little different, Marsh said that’s not all bad—restrictions breed creativity. 

“To limit physical contact, we’re using digital tickets and digital programs. Where a sponsor might have just had an ad in a physical program, with a digital program, ads are clickable. Where Sandy Arts might have asked for volunteers in a paper program, with digital you click and find opportunities in real time,” Marsh said. 

“Nunsense” runs on selected evenings Oct. 2-17 at the Theater at Mount Jordan, 9351 S. Mountaineer Lane (about 250 E.). For the complete schedule and links to tickets on Eventbrite, go to www.sandyarts.com, see Sandy Arts Guild on Facebook, or call the office at 801-568-6097.

“We’ve missed having live theatre for seven months. This is a very talented and funny cast. The show is silly and a much needed escape from reality. We’re exercising caution above and beyond what’s required so we can keep everyone safe and get back to doing what we love,” Marsh said.