Theater returns to the Orpheum with live audience welcome this weekend

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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Live entertainment and performances are some of the industries hit hardest by the pandemic. Across the country, many theaters are still closed.  But in Sioux Falls, actors are returning to the stage this weekend and inviting a live audience back too.  

“Twenty-four straight years of doing this, touring in Connecticut, Europe and around the country,” Lights Up Productions owner Brent Grosvenor said.

After more than 1,000 shows without cancelling a performance, Brent Grosvenor’s company, Lights Up Productions, has had performances cancelled since March.

“It has devastated entertainment and the theater industry…people are out of work wishing something would happen,” Grosvenor said. 

“Financially this pandemic has hit us in a huge way, we had to cancel Chicago, we were going to do Chicago the musical in April, it was going to be the biggest show we had ever done and we had already spent a lot of money on it because we were planning to make a lot of money on it,” Good Night Theatre Collective Artistic Director Bob Wendland said. 

The local Good Night Theatre Collective also had to cancel scheduled performances, but got creative to allow their actors and audience a taste of theater, even from afar.

“Started working on virtual productions and launched our first virtual cabaret at the beginning of April…we had four performers spread out on stage, wearing face shields and singing,” Wendland said.  “Then we started capitalizing on the beautiful weather we have right now…doing three different garden parties as we’re calling them.”

Performers with the Theatre company joined forces with the Sioux Falls Chamber Music Collective to host live outdoor performances in the Paladino Hohm Sculpture Garden in front of the Washington Pavilion. 

The Pavilion’s Dakota Academy of Performing Arts also got creative to allow children to still get involved in some theater camps and performances over the summer. It started with Zoom meetings in June and then in July and August DAPA held some small, limited performances inside the Pavilion. 

“The kids got to perform on Sommervold stage, which is where Broadway performers perform. They performed on that stage, spread out with lots of space in between them with face shields on,” Wendland said. 

But this weekend Sioux Falls’ Orpheum Theater will host its first full-fledged musical since the pandemic began.

“Got the cast together and I said we’re doing this show, we’re rehearsing four times a week, are you all on board? We can’t really do masks and all that because we’ve got to sing and do this right. They were like, we’re all on board and let’s do the show…so we decided to go all in and put on a big show,” Grosvenor said. 

Over the next two weekends, 27 local actors will perform in the musical ‘Lost in Vegas’ with 60-percent of the Orpheum’s seating open for a live audience. Grosvenor says masks will not be required, but they are taking several safety measures.

“We aren’t selling the front two rows so the actors won’t be spitting on anyone so it’s as safe as we can make it,” Grosvenor said. 

Tickets for ‘Lost in Vegas’ are available right now at the Washington Pavilion box office. Three dollars from every ticket purchased will be donated to the LifeLight Youth Center in Sioux Falls.  The performances start Friday, Sept 4th at 7 p.m. Visit Lights Up Productions for more performance dates. 

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