Theaters in Macon continue to adapt amid pandemic


In February, audiences could tune in to an online production of Theatre Macon’s Bright Star Concert Version, pictured here. Theatre Macon continues to hold online performances. Photo courtesy of Theatre Macon.

One year ago, theaters around the world were shut down because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and many have yet to re-open. But the pandemic has not prevented theaters from employing their creative minds to implement safe performances. 

Performances continue to forge ahead in Macon at Theatre Macon and in Mercer University’s theater department. 

Angelina Christine, a sophomore english and theater student at Mercer University, has been involved in the theater for most of her life as an actress and director. Since the pandemic, she has been unable to perform in a live show. 

“For me personally it has been pretty terrible,” Christine said. “I was in a show, ‘Cabaret, with Macon Little Theatre, and the week that we were supposed to perform, it got canceled.” 

Mercer University’s theater department has hosted performances over Zoom and “has been really adaptable,” Christine said. 

Christine was not a part of any of the Zoom performances, but she is currently rehearsing for her role as a stilt-walker in a giant outdoor puppet show, which the Mercer theater department is preparing. 

“We’re just trying to adapt and do what we can and COVID has actually given us the opportunity to put on a really interesting, unique show that we wouldn’t have done in the past. So I think that there are good opportunities that come out of it, even though it’s different and it is a struggle,” Christine said. 

Christine said that what she misses most about theater before the pandemic is the audience, but “that when the vaccine becomes more popular, people will be more willing to go back to normal.” 

Mercer’s theater department is not the only performing arts center in Macon to overcome the struggles of the pandemic. 

Theatre Macon has hosted performances over zoom, and the theater is currently holding auditions for a production of “Once On This Island,” according to the Theatre Macon website

Once On This Island will be the first in-person performance Theatre Macon has produced in over a year. 

Since the pandemic, Theatre Macon has produced eight online performances, and Richard Frazier, the artistic director, said “it’s definitely been a learning experience for me and for the theater and also for our performers, because many of them have never performed for film before.”

For “Once On This Island,”  “the plan is to be able to do a socially distant masked audience… because we haven’t brought our community into our space in a year.”

The musical will also be available to stream. 

Over the past year, Theatre Macon has taken extra precautions to remain safe, and no performers have contracted COVID-19 as a result of a production, according to Frazier. 

“That’s something that I’m very proud of, you know, with everything that’s been going on,” Frazier said. “Keeping the people at the forefront of what we do, which is exactly what we do, and keeping everyone safe and healthy.”

Since the pandemic began, Theatre Macon has seen a “tremendous drop” in audience participation, Frazier said.

According to Frazier, it is hard to get an actual count of the audience because “there’s no way to know exactly how many people are attached to each one of those streaming codes.”

Although Theatre Macon has only seen about one-third of their usual audience engagement since the pandemic, Frazier is “very grateful even for that, you know, to be able to continue to create.”

As COVID-19 vaccines are rolling out in increasing numbers, Frazier is optimistic about a resurgence in audience engagement. 

“I think there’s so many changes, and so many things that we’ve learned over the course of, you know, the last year, but I think that theater is still theater, I think that people want to be in the space where, you know, in the room where it happens,” Frazier said. 

Theatre Macon’s production of “Once On This Island” will premiere on June 3. You can purchase tickets on Theatre Macon’s website.

“It’s gonna be really nice to be back together in the same space,” Frazier said. “I think it’s gonna be very, very special.”