The curtains are rising on a new semester at Minnesota State University, Mankato and with it comes a new lineup of shows from the school’s theater department. With some shows including “Tartuffe”, “12 Angry Jurors” and “The Sound of Music”, dazzling performances are sure to grace the stage.
The overall energy coming into this semester has been upbeat as both students and faculty are returning to campus. Director Matthew Caron is excited to be back in the theater to start planning the spring musical, even with the precautions surrounding COVID-19.
“There’s a little caution as everyone is nervous [about the pandemic], but we need to move forward the best we can with the information that we’ve been given and the safety precautions we have,” said Caron. “We love our program and theater, and in order to do theater, we need a live audience, so we are just moving forward as safely as possible.”
With the ongoing pandemic, everything is being done to ensure the safety of both cast and crew in the theater department. Director of Public Relations of Theater and Dance department Corrie Eggimann noted that the theater is taking the same precautions as the rest of the University.
“If students choose to perform without a mask, they either need to prove that they are vaccinated or they must take weekly Covid tests,” said Eggimann. “For the performances, patrons are required to be masked the entire time in the theater.”
Despite the return of the arts, the surge of the Omicron variant is still at large. Drawing from the crises that arose during the 2020-2021 school year, the theater department feels better equipped this year to handle these situations. Each director has contingency plans in case a cast member comes down with COVID-19.
The spring musical, “The Sound of Music”, was chosen as a way to draw the community to come back and enjoy the theater. With recognizable music and memories connected to the show spanning through generations, it’s certain to draw in a crowd.
“The last two years have not only been hard on the overall arts, but for our program as well. We’re hoping the name recognition of “The Sound of Music” will get people excited and bring people back to the theater,” said Caron. “There’s a lot of familiarity that I think will tap into people’s sense of nostalgia that will make them glad that they came back to the theater.”
The anxieties of COVID-19 isn’t hindering the theater department as they don’t want to leave MSU or the community left waiting in the wings.
“‘The Sound of Music’ is going to be a fun celebration to show how the students have persisted through the pandemic,” said Eggimann.
“I want the community to feel welcome and to experience that shared storytelling between the audience and cast. I hope that people remember the magic of the theater when they return,” said Caron.