Theater returns with both an indoor and outdoor spin

·5 min read

Jun. 10—With mask and other health mandates being lifted across the nation, some might have hoped the move would lead to a faster return of indoor theater productions and that we could attend shows like it was 2019.

Instead, most theater groups will be moving ahead with plans to take shows outdoors this summer and essentially have indoor theater return during what many of us consider the fall months.

I say "most" because, the Croswell Opera House — which remained closed in Michigan because the state was under much stricter health guidelines compared to Ohio during the coronavirus pandemic — is taking the opposite approach to many of our Ohio theater groups by taking shows originally planned for outdoors and instead bringing them back to its indoor theater.

For so long, Ohio outpaced Michigan in effort to reopen theaters. Now the Croswell is jumping ahead of the pack.

The move follows Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's announcement in May that Michigan would fully lift outdoor capacity limits earlier this month and end caps on indoor gatherings starting July 1.

The Croswell originally planned to follow in the footsteps of groups such as the Toledo Repertoire Theatre, Toledo School for the Arts, and Toledo Ballet by trying its hand at putting on full outdoor theatrical performances. The group had tried doing so last year with concerts and small theater readings, but health restrictions put an early end to those efforts.

Erik Gable, director of marketing and audience development at the Croswell, said the recent easing of state guidelines allowed organizers to reopen the theater two months earlier than originally planned. That means while the Croswell's summer concert series will still go on as scheduled at the nearby Farmers Market Pavilion, its two summer musicals, Disenchanted and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat will be on the Croswell stage this July and August.

"When we made our plans back in March, we didn't know how things would look in July," Gable said. "Luckily, both vaccine distribution and case numbers are going a lot better than we expected."

That doesn't mean our area Ohio theater groups aren't putting on indoor shows. 3B Productions recently put on Rock of Ages at the Maumee Indoor Theatre, albeit still under some restrictions, and Actors Collaborative Toledo is preparing to present two one-woman shows later this month at the historic Ohio Theatre at 3112 Lagrange St.: Elective Affinities and Accidentally Brave.

ACT co-founder Jeffrey Albright said like many Toledo-area theater groups, plans for a full return to "normal" will be this fall — that is, if audiences are ready.

"And who who knows how much audiences are going to be ready to come back and when?" Albright said.

But they seem more than ready and willing for some outdoor performances. The Toledo Repertoire Theatre is again going to hold its Young Rep production at the Ottawa Park Amphitheater with All Shook Up School Edition, while the Children's Theatre Workshop recently began looking for additional staff to help put on musical theater programs this summer at various Toledo city parks.

While it's always disappointing when Michigan beats us at anything, I don't think too many people will be complaining if it means theaters are reopening. And with more and more productions getting added to the calendar, at least we're now being given options about whether we want to enjoy the arts in the great outdoors, or inside with some air conditioning.

Upcoming shows:

—Accidentally Brave and Elective Affinities: June 18-20 by Actors Collaborative Toledo at the Ohio Theatre, 3114 Lagrange St., Toledo. Tickets are $20 for general admission, $15 for seniors and college students, and $10 for high school students. They can be purchased by going to www.act419.org.

—HELLO, DOLLY!: June 24-27 at Perrysburg High School, 13385 Roachton Rd. in Perrysburg. The show is being put on by the Perrysburg Musical Theatre Company.

—Toledo Ballet 2021 summer programs for dancers ages 4 and up. Toledo Ballet's summer offerings include a week-long Broadway dance intensive taught by professional dancers and master teachers from Broadway and three week-long ballet intensives for advanced and intermediate level students on ballet technique, pointe, variations, and choreography. Non-Toledo Ballet students must call 419-471-0049 or email Lisa Mayer-Lang, artistic director for Toledo Ballet at lmayer-lang@artstoledo.com to schedule a placement evaluation.

—Disenchanted: 7:30 p.m. July 9-10 and July 15-17, 2:30 p.m. July 11 and 18 at the Croswell Opera House, 129 E. Maumee St., Adrian, Mich.

—All Shook Up School Edition: A Young Rep production at 7 p.m. Aug. 5 and 6 at the Ottawa Park Amphitheater, 2205 Kenwood Blvd., in Toledo.

—Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat: 7:30 p.m. Aug. 13-14 and Aug. 19-21, and 2:30 p.m. Aug. 15, 20 and 21 at the Croswell Opera House.

—Something Rotten!: Sept. 10-11, Sept. 17-19, and Sept. 24-26 at the Ottawa Park Amphitheater.

—Something Rotten!: 7:30 p.m. Oct. 8-9 and Oct. 14-16, and 2:30 p.m. Oct. 10 and Oct. 17 at the Croswell Opera House.

—Sherlock Holmes and the Adventure of the Fallen Soufflé: Oct. 29-31, and Nov. 4-7 at the Rep.

—Anastasia: (times vary) Nov. 4 — Nov. 7 at the Stranahan Theater, 4645 Heatherdowns Blvd., Toledo.

—A Christmas Story: 7:30 p.m. Nov. 26-27, Dec. 3-4, and Dec. 10-11; and 2:30 p.m. Nov. 28, Dec. 4-5, and Dec. 11-12 at the Croswell Opera House.

—An Officer and a Gentleman: (times vary) Dec. 2 — 5 at the at the Stranahan Theater.

—A Christmas Carol: Dec. 2-5 and Dec. 9-12 at the Rep.

Jeff Schmucker writes about theater for The Blade. Send news of theater and comedy events at least two weeks in advance to theater@theblade.com.

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