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Cultural Park Theater to stage weekend show, fund raising performance set for next week

By Staff | Jul 23, 2020

Residents looking for a night out can once again take to Cape Coral’s long-standing community theater for live entertainment.

Beginning this weekend, Cultural Park Theater will welcome back patrons to enjoy shows in person, taking extreme sanitary precautions, social distancing seats and requiring all to wear a mask or face covering.

This Friday, Saturday and Sunday, “The Owl & The Pussycat” will be onstage for limited-seating performances.

“We’re really looking forward to bringing a live crowd back,” said Michael Moran, executive director at Cultural Park Theater. “Virtual has been wonderful, but to work with having the live crowd in here is exciting. We are anxious to get back up on the stage again, but we’re also anxious to make sure the theater is a safe place for people to go. We’ve entered this very cautiously.”

The following weekend, Elvis Presley and The Legends featuring David Morin will take the stage at Cultural Park Theater in a three-day fundraising event. The theater, like many, has taken a hard financial hit due to COVID-19 and has been hosting performances virtually to raise money. Moran said Morin is a popular draw at the theater and is providing his services at no cost.

Moran called this weekend’s performance a great way to figure out what works best and what doesn’t work when it comes to how theatergoers feel when it comes to their safety.

“It’s kind of a little trial run,” Moran said.

While many summer camps around the area closed due to the virus, Cultural Park Theater’s summer camps operated at a limited capacity and with many protocols in place. Moran was happy to report Cultural Park Theater had no issues with any camper or staff member testing positive over their eight weeks.

Some of the several precautions the theater is taking include a deep cleaning of the theater with everything sanitized, being fogged every day, taking temperatures of those who enter the building and mandatory face coverings.

Cultural Park Theater will be limited to 71 seats per performance, which is less than half of their usual occupancy.

“We’ve been doing a deep clean of the theater, far beyond the normal and, happily, produced a very limited size summer camp successfully keeping our staff and theater campers safe while they discovered the merits of live theater and often for the first time,” Moran said. “From that program we have learned new creative ways of even social distancing stage blocking for our cast as well as the audience and still keep productions thoroughly entertaining.

“We realize it is impossible to guarantee we can eliminate risk of people catching the virus outside of staying at home but with our plans for reopening that are posted on our website along with continuing super sanitization of the building costumes, props limited contact with staff. We are taking every step to ensure our patrons of the safety precautions when they enter Cultural Park. Our theater is daily fogged and sanitized with hospital grade disinfectant. By selling no more than 71 seats per performance we’ll do social distancing, with seating groups of two, three or four spaced socially distanced apart from each other. There will be temperature checks at the door; along with many other businesses in the county we do require our patrons to wear masks. There are no concessions and our main theater doors will be open for seating when the building opens to reduce the risk of infection in crowded lobby areas.”

Moran is looking forward to hearing feedback from patrons this weekend on what they did well and what the theater can do to improve their live performances from a safety aspect. He also realizes that some people may not be ready to come back to the theater just yet, and that’s fine.

“The Owl & The Pussycat” was set to take the stage just before coronavirus forced the theater’s closure. The two-person show is ideal for being able to space actors on stage and has been ready to go for some time.

“We’re just making sure that we ease into everything, keep it as safe as possible and still provide everybody with a really enjoyable evening at the same time,” Moran said.

The show is a comedy about bickering neighbors in Manhattan, one a frustrated writer and one a woman of the night. When Felix the writer gets Doris kicked out of his neighboring flat, she knocks at his door at 3 a.m. with something to say. They yell, lose another apartment, and pick up where they left off in a friend’s flat and beyond.

Ticket prices for “The Owl & The Pussycat” are $21 for adults, $18 for seniors and $15 for students. Tickets purchased prior to the show’s previous cancellation are still valid.

Tickets for the David Morin Elvis and The Legends fundraiser July 31-Aug. 2 are $21 for all.

Moran said if the theater can sell out all three shows they would be able to raise a much-needed $5,000.

“We badly need it at this point,” Moran said. “It’s a huge step for us to be able to bring back live theater. It’s also hard to pay royalties and fees for shows when you have a limited audience — something Cultural Park is going to be facing for the next year also.”

For more information on Cultural Park Theater and to purchase tickets, visit www.culturalparktheater.com or call 239-772-5862.

-Connect with this reporter on Twitter: @haddad_cj