Students in the Division of Theater at UMKC return to in-person productions

Students in the Division of Theater at UMKC rehearsing for William Shakespeare’s  " The Tempest"
Posted at 10:03 PM, Sep 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-14 23:46:58-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The show goes on for students in the Division of Theater at the University of Missouri Kansas City, who are back performing in front of an audience starting this Thursday.

“The first, taking house lights out and the lights coming up on the stage, is one of like the most magical moments, because you’re just like its going we can’t stop now,” Madeline Brasgalla, who's a stage a manager for "The Tempest" said.

For the over a year the students in the Division of Theater have been performing virtually due to the pandemic. For the students, it was transition that was tough to cope with.

“Sometimes there's technical problems or sometimes there is a delay or sometimes someone's internet is not working quite well and it drops out like halfway through the show," Loren Wendelburg, who's a cast member for "The Tempest" said. "It just a whole bunch of other things that that just lump onto the stress of having to perform."

Kenneth Martin, chair for the division of theater at UMKC, and a long time performer, says the pandemic forced the entire industry to face a major setback.

“You know when you spend your lifetime, literally sort of your lifetime doing live theater [and] to have the entire industry sort of shut down for 18 months, you just don’t realize how much you miss it until it’s gone" Martin said. "The opportunity to be back in the theater, and to be working with colleagues, and to be working with fellow artists, and the idea that we can tell a story again in front of a live audience is so exciting, it’s so emotional that's how exciting it is.”

Now, the students are preparing for their first show of their season — William Shakespeare’s “The Tempest."

Wendelburg feels it's especially fitting for the current times the world is facing.

“Its about escapism, it’s about a journey into this magical tropical island where people can forget their cares or their worries for a short time and I think that's what people need right now,” Wendelburg said.

Though the students are excited to be performing in front of an audience, there will be COVID-19 protocols to protect people who attend the show.

The theater seats over 500 people but will only allow 200 people which is under 50% capacity, according to Martin.

"Nobody will be seated in the front row so that there is enough distance between the actors and the audience, so that we have some sort of safety zone built in," Martin said. "The same with the aisles, we are not going to seat anybody in the aisles because we have actors walking down the aisles. The audience will be in masks and the entire cast is vaccinated."

Although there will be changes the cast and crew told KSHB 41 News they are simply excited to bring the house down.

“The audience is coming to experience a story and I’m a story teller I help to create a story with the other cast members,” Wendelburg said.

The opening show will take place Thursday on the UMKC campus at Spencer Theater. People can find tickets here.