Brainerd Community Theatre to stage play on virtual stage
Even though current health directives don’t allow for a large audience to gather in one place, Brainerd Community Theatre anticipates a large turnout for its next production that will be performed entirely online with spectators watching via computers, smart TVs and cell phones.
Performances will take place Tuesday-Thursday, June 16-18.
"A Long Trip," by Dan McGeehan, is the story of an elderly couple who have lived a long and happy life together. Now, however, the woman is slowly slipping away as dementia runs its course. In an attempt to reawaken the bond they have held for so many years, the man tells her of the moment they fell in love.
It is a story so vivid that she can see it play out before her eyes: a younger version of the man and woman meeting, falling in love and sharing a first kiss. One final, happy memory for her to take with her on her last long trip. Told with both laughter and tears, "A Long Trip" is a journey of lasting love and interdependence.
BCT Director Patrick Spradlin spoke of the decision to stage a play in this format.
“When the COVID-19 emergency first hit, our organization had long discussions about how to proceed,” he said in a news release. “It was never a matter of whether to proceed, only how we should do that.”
The theatre saw three possible scenarios: performers and audience members all separated from one another; performers on stage with their work streamed to a separated audience; audience and performers together in the same space, with some restrictions.
“This production fits the first scenario,” said Spradlin. “I approached director Beth Selinger, who has done some really fine work in various community theatres in this area, and gave her the challenge of making this idea real.”
The play is free to audiences, but the theatre is accepting donations of any amount from those who watch.
“There are real costs to doing this, even in this format, and we know we won’t necessarily recoup all of those expenses,” said Spradlin. “But we are nonetheless committed to producing quality performing arts events.”
Selinger held virtual auditions over Zoom, cast the four actors needed for the play, and has been rehearsing them over the same virtual platform.
“The biggest advantage to using this means of production has been the ability to cast actors who don’t even live in the area,” said Spradlin.
The cast includes veteran performers Ed Yunker, who got his start on the Chalberg Theatre stage at Central Lakes College in 1972 and most recently is known as the producer of the Geritol Frolics; Karen Mowers, who has appeared in numerous productions with Little Falls’ Hole in the Day Players; Sadie Wunder, who starred in various community productions before recently relocating to St. Paul; and Jesse Brutscher, known to area audiences for roles in each community theatre in the area.
“Sadie and Karen don’t live in Brainerd, but the internet still makes it possible for them to be involved,” said Spradlin. “This has certainly widened our potential talent pool.”
The production’s creative team includes virtual stage manager Lorri Jager; BCT Technical Director George Marsolek; and BCT lighting and sound technician Curtis Jendro.
While the play is free, audience members need to obtain the necessary sign-in information for the production. That link, and other information, is available at the theatre’s web site, www.clcperformingarts.com .
All three performances will feature a talk-back session at the end of the performance, and one of the performances will include live chat opportunities during the performance. Those wishing to attend the performance will be given a link to the streaming site on the day of the performance.
“We hope we’re soon able to get everyone back together in our theatre spaces,” said Spradlin, "but in the meantime we welcome everyone to be part of this unique event.”