No sun, no problem: Cobb kicks off drive-in concert series with indoor performance

Aleks Gilbert, Marietta Daily Journal, Ga.
·3 min read

Apr. 25—MARIETTA — The forecast said it would rain all day.

Last summer, that might have given Jono Davis pause. But now, with planning, an abundance of vaccines and the general sense the pandemic is in retreat, moving the first installment of Cobb's 2021 drive-in concert series inside was an easy choice.

Davis is the executive director of the Jennie T. Anderson Theatre, which sits beside the Cobb Civic Center at the intersection of South Marietta Parkway and Fairground Street.

Saturday afternoon and evening, at the Anderson Theatre, actors from the Atlanta Lyric Theatre performed "Luminous," a cabaret "centered entirely on musical theatre," according to the event's brochure.

They were originally scheduled to perform in the Civic Center's parking lot, which can hold 64 cars. Last summer, as the pandemic entered its second surge, the county organized a brief but well-received drive-in concert series there — the shows sold out in two days — and Davis hoped to not only re-create that success but build upon it.

Weather-permitting, the next three programs will be held as drive-ins in the parking lot. They include concerts featuring bluegrass music, an '80s- and '90s-themed cabaret and Motown music.

Although the sun shone on the Civic Center's parking lot during Saturday's 4 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. shows, rain was expected all day, and they moved inside out of an abundance of caution.

Davis' team had made contingency plans early on, making the switch an easy choice. He's had to cancel so many shows in the last year, "the last thing we wanted to do was cancel the first thing in the season," he said.

Although some had asked for refunds after learning the show had been moved inside, those losses had been offset by increased sales from another "demographic," Davis said — people who've been itching for indoor entertainment.

Those who came to Saturday's show said they were, for the most part, fine attending an indoor show.

Atlanta's Robert Orovitz was hesitant. It was his first indoor event in over a year, but he was more than two weeks removed from his second dose of a coronavirus vaccine and decided to go with the flow.

He had come to see the show with Michelle Baker, an Alpharetta resident and member of the group Celebrate Atlanta. The Anderson Theatre has donated tickets to the group on multiple occasions, and Baker has been to at least three or four shows there, she said.

"It's always a good show. I've always had a good time," she said.

Having received her coronavirus vaccine, she had no problem with the event being moved inside. That said, "the drive-in would have been fun," she said.

Lynn Cohen, of Sandy Springs, said she had been coming to the Anderson Theatre for years. She said she was "so happy" to learn the show had been moved inside.

"They've done a great job with social distancing and masks," she said. "I think it's time to start (opening) it, little by little. ... Cases are low, and hospitalizations are low."

Meanwhile, in the theater's lobby, representatives from the Atlanta Artist Relief Fund had set up a booth in hopes of soliciting donations that would keep struggling area artists afloat.

Donations have begun drying up, according to Bridget McCarthy, the Relief Fund's executive director. Businesses that closed during the pandemic may be reopening, but thousands of metro area artists are still unemployed, she said. Those artists have been asking themselves: do I change careers, or do I ride out this crisis?

Those who can ride it out are generally privileged in some way, shape or form, she continued.

"And if we're fighting for systemic equity, we can't let that be the only people who can come back after this."