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Theater Returns to Des Moines

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Live theater has been on hold the past few years due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but it is finally making a comeback in the Des Moines area after two years with many students and staff excited to attend. 

Cece Sanchez, a senior at Drake University majoring in musical theatre and law, politics and society, says that she is excited for the comeback of theater in the area. 

“I’ve been involved in musical theatre since the seventh grade with having seen many products such as “Mean Girls,” “Hello! Dolly” and “The Band’s Visit” at the Des Moines Civic Center,” Sanchez said. 

According to an article by Monash University, many theatre productions turned to online after live performances were shut down in early 2021. They turned to platforms such as Zoom, YouTube, Instagram and Facebook. 

John Pomeroy, a professor of theatre at Drake University, has been working with the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees and says he’s ecstatic for the return of live theater after the closing of many performances due to COVID-19. 

“I am ecstatic about the return of live theatre. Yes, it is true that we do this art for the audience. The audience is a key factor that we produce. Yes, the department produced shows all of the academic year of 2020-2021, but the subtle undercurrent of the audience response was missing. Audiences returning to the same space as the performers makes the time we spend working to create all worthwhile,” Pomeroy said. 

When theatre performances were able to be live with an audience, attendance was down with social distancing and masks required for all performances. 

“I am simultaneously relieved and terrified at live theatre coming back. Artists have been struggling for the past two years because of how many theatres and live performance venues have been shut down, and it’s so exciting to see Broadway reopen, national tours start again and community theater come back. The pandemic has also been hard for artists because it has preventing us from fully participating in our art, and being able to perform at least even semi-normally fills me with joy. At the same time, COVID has been and remains unpredictable. We don’t know when the next significant variant will happen, we don’t know how long vaccines will be effective, we don’t know how much longer any of this will last. Until we can guarantee the safety of all live theater performer and technicians, I will remain apprehensive about the return of live theatre,” Sanchez said. 

Dina Perez, a senior majoring in musical theatre with a minor in music, said she feels hopeful about the live performances after the hiatus. 

“I am excited about it. It makes me thankful for live theater, and I really did miss it. I just hope we can keep taking positive steps towards “normalcy” than backwards steps, since this pandemic has been a crazy time for me as someone with an underlying condition,” Perez said.

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