KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — Farmers Alley Theatre in Kalamazoo is preparing to welcome back audiences for live shows after 18 months of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Broadway actor and director Jerry Dixon, who grew up in the city, is returning to lend his talents for the official reopening.
Dixon is directing a production of “Songs for a New World” that will open Oct. 8.
“I went to junior high at Hillside and then I went to K Central for high school and I’m so proud of the fact I can say that my experiences here in Kalamazoo, in the theater community, really prepared me,” Dixon said.
Jeremy Koch, the artistic director of the theater, says they are taking precautions to protect everyone who steps inside from COVID-19.
“We decided to mandate that every employee be fully vaccinated and then, we decided that every audience member also needs to be fully vaccinated and we’re going based on the recommendations from federal, state entities,” Koch said.
Audience members will also be required to wear masks, but actors will not be masked while they are performing.
The pandemic has been especially hard financially on small theaters like Farmers Alley. Federal and state grants, along with donations, have been a lifeline for venues and actors.
Actor Jos N. Banks says while this will not be his return to the stage after the hiatus, he is thrilled to help the small theater kick off its season. He experienced the challenge of going without work firsthand and is excited to be back in front of a live audience.
“I lost about a year and a half of work and so coming back, I haven’t heard from many of those theater companies, some of them have even shutdown. So it’s really devastating, but we’re all trying to stay positive,” Banks said.
The musical runs through Oct. 24. For information on tickets, visit the Farmers Alley Theatre website.