Live theater is returning to the Upstate.
At least two local theaters will soon reopen their doors for live indoor performances, but with limited seating and physical distancing.
Easley’s Foothills Playhouse is staging “The Game’s Afoot,” Ken Ludwig’s mystery-comedy about an actor who becomes a Sherlock Holmes-like detective when someone is murdered in his home.
The Mauldin Cultural Center, meanwhile, will offer “Let the Good Times Roll,” a feel-good revue of ’50s, ’60s and ’70s rock.
Both shows open on Oct. 2.
“There really is an excitement to get back on stage,” said Derick Pindroh, executive artistic director of the Foothills Playhouse. “We hope people will come out, but only if they feel comfortable. We’re trying to be as accommodating as we can.”
Gov. Henry McMaster lifted restrictions on indoor performances in early August, allowing theater companies to stage shows with some limitations.
The two theaters can operate at only 50 percent capacity to ensure physical distancing in the audience. For Foothills, that means 110 tickets can be sold; for the Mauldin Cultural Center, 125.
Theatergoers will be required to wear masks. They’ll also have their temperature taken at the door. The Mauldin Cultural Center is asking patrons to purchase tickets online or by phone.
The Upstate’s live theaters have been closed for seven months due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Foothills Playhouse shut down in March after only three of its nine planned performances of “Anne of Green Gables.”
The Mauldin Cultural Center had to cancel scheduled performances of “Annie Jr.” in April and “Seussical” in May.
That was particularly difficult for the relatively new Mauldin Cultural Center.
“We started from nothing, and we’ve really grown over the past couple of years,” said Keira Heider, director of the Mauldin Cultural Center.
Both theaters have taken precautions as they’ve prepared to reopen. Cast members of “The Game’s Afoot” have been wearing masks at rehearsals.
The Mauldin Cultural Center conducted auditions online for “Let the Good Times Roll.” Rehearsals have been held both in person and digitally.
Other Upstate theaters will not return to indoor performances until January or later.
Greenville Theatre recently announced that it will reopen with “Erma Bombeck: At Wit’s End,” Jan. 14-24. The one-woman show, featuring Carrie Smith, centers on the life of the beloved American humorist of the title.
Centre Stage has not announced when it will return to indoor performances, but it continues to host outdoor shows. Next up is “I’m Every Woman 2,” Sept. 11-12. Also on tap are a play reading and virtual performances.
Theaters could benefit from the pent-up demand when they reopen.
“I think people are itching to get back to enjoying theater, but there are concerns, too,” Pindroh said. “We’re trying everything we can do to minimize those concerns.”
Paul Hyde writes about the arts for the Greenville Journal. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter: @PaulHyde7.
If you go
What: “The Game’s Afoot,” by Ken Ludwig
When: Oct. 2-18
Where: Foothills Playhouse, 201 South 5th Street in Easley
Info: 864-855-1817 or foothillsplayhouse.org
What: “Let the Good Times Roll,” a rock revue
When: Oct. 2-11
Where: Mauldin Cultural Center, 101 East Butler Road in Mauldin
Info: 864-335-4862 or mauldinculturalcenter.org