The San Juan Island Community Theatre is putting on its first big indoor show since 2019. “Mamma Mia!” will run through Nov. 21.
Executive Artistic Director Nathan Kessler-Jeffrey said, “When our community fills the theatre, it comes to life.”
Tickets and show-time information can be found at https://www.sjctheatre.org/.
During the pandemic, the theatre was able to bring in artists to film performances, along with having outdoor productions at the fairgrounds and smaller indoor productions. In fact, its filmed Youtube performances garnered thousands of views and outdoor performances brought in almost 2,600 attendees.
While Kessler-Jeffrey is thankful for being able to come together virtually, he said, “Nothing compares to the vibrancy and immediacy of being in the same space at the same time, experiencing the same story.”
This show has been a long time coming since “Mamma Mia!” was canceled in 2020 and efforts were made to reschedule it for the spring of 2021. When the vaccines weren’t readily available in time for the theatre to feel comfortable putting on a show, it left the fall of 2021 as its only option. Kessler-Jeffrey said there was no way they wanted to select a different show for that time slot.
“This is a joyful, fun, energizing script and score, and exactly the type of show I want to see after a pandemic,” he said. “I’m not in rehearsal every night, but every time I am, I go home humming these tunes and dancing to the music in my head.”
Many of the original 2020 cast has stayed for the current set date, leaving them with less of a casting struggle than they anticipated.
When asked about the toll the pandemic had on theatre artists, Kessler-Jeffrey responded with, “It’s difficult to even find the words.”
He went on to explain that collaboration, creativity, joy and community are some of the top reasons why theatre artists love what they do, and the pandemic had deprived them of many of those things.
“When that is suddenly gone, the ache is difficult to describe — a hole in my heart that I know was shared by hundreds and thousands of my friends and colleagues across the world,” he said.
As for pandemic procedures, he said that checking for proof of vaccination upon entering and masking has become a standard in theatre in the Pacific Northwest. Performers and staff are all fully vaccinated, and no food or beverages are allowed in the auditorium so everyone can remain fully masked at all times. They were recently able to offer free rapid testing on the night of performances for those who are unvaccinated.
“This is tremendously important and missional as part of our goal of providing performing arts access to as many in our community as possible,” Kessler-Jeffrey said.
The transformation of the set and characters is one of the top things Kessler-Jeffrey said he admires about theatre, and he looks forward to seeing this transition of the theatre after the pandemic and he would like to thank the generous donors who supported SCJT throughout the pandemic.
“We are so excited to have as many of you back, safely, as possible,” he said. “You may not be comfortable yet, and that’s fine. We have a whole season planned and we look forward to welcoming you whenever you are ready to join us for a performance.”