Parker Theatre to Reopen with ‘The Corona Conundrum’

 

COVID-19 has majorly impacted theaters across the country, causing many to postpone their seasons and close their doors. Even the ‘Great White Way’ has gone dark. Due to the cases in New York City, the Broadway League extended the shutdown of NYC theaters until at least September 6th. But in a time of crisis, the connection that live theater provides is growing more important. “We need human interaction. People are desperate to see actual people and hear live human voices,” said James Parker, Executive Director of the Parker Theatre in South Salt Lake. This is why the Parker Theatre is opening a new one-act production “The Corona Conundrum.”

“The Corona Conundrum” is an original collection of sketches about what it’s like to live through this global pandemic. Written and rehearsed over only a few weeks, this series of vignettes is a hilarious and honest representation of the struggles of social and physical distancing, including everything from toilet paper shortages to online dating. “We created this show because, with all the doom and gloom in the world, we need to find joy and take a minute to laugh,” Parker said.

The Parker Theatre is occupying the front line for the reopening of Utah theatres — Salt Lake Acting Company won’t return until the fall and the Pioneer Theatre Company has pushed their season back to February 2021. But Parker wants to assure uneasy audience members that this move is as safe as it is crucial. “We are completely in line with the state’s guidelines in our category,” Parker said. “It may seem unusual because most theaters are closed, but we’ve adapted our show and its duration to meet the guidelines.” 

The theatre has set up designated entrances and exits to streamline foot traffic so parties stay at least 6 feet apart from each other at all times. Seating in the house is only available in groups of four, spaced out at least 6 feet away from another party. The production has a running time of only 40 minutes without an intermission — just enough to get a taste of live theatre again without spending too much time outside of social isolation.

Despite the hurried feeling around reopening, there is a devotion to safety in the production environment at the Parker Theatre. The stage is designed with three separate platforms, so even the performers can keep their distance and feel safe while on stage and the production team has been working to make sure everyone feels safe. “I’m excited to act on stage again no matter how many feet away my scene partner is,” said cast member Lexie Thomsen. 

Surely, this production will be unlike anything currently happening in the theater world, but the Parker Theatre hopes it will be a move to a new normal. Cast member Bryson Dumas said, “Normal, for me, means entertaining people. I am more than ready to get back to what I love: being on stage and creating something people can laugh at.” Hopefully, this show is a welcome escape from isolation and not a step in the wrong direction.

Tickets can be purchased through their website or the box office at (801)-532-6000 and boxoffice@uctheatre.org. The Parker Theatre is also accepting donations to make it through this difficult time.

As Parker himself said, “Corona hates theatre.”

 

h.keating@dailyutahchronicle.com

@iamjustkeating

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