Middletown Lyric Theatre returns to action, embarks on 43rd season with five shows

The Middletown Lyric Theatre will embark on its 43rd season with five shows in 2021.

The first show of the season, “Grace and Glorie” is now underway. The two remaining performances will be held on Fridayat 8 p.m. and Saturday at 3 p.m.

“When we were allowed to reopen, we were allowed to open with 15 people, so that’s what we did. It wasn’t necessarily about making money, it was about staying relevant, and getting back open so people would have something to do,” said Charley Shafor, the show’s director and Managing Artistic Director of MLT.

He said the seating capacity is expected to increase to 24 patrons starting with second show of the season, “The Lifespan of a Fact.” During a normal season, the seating capacity is about 100 patrons.

“We’re able to do that and stay within our guidelines, and still do social distancing, mask-wearing and all of that. So, we have all of that in place, and all of our volunteers know what to do. Audiences seem to be responsive to it, after coming to the first two performances of ‘Grace and Glorie,’” Shafor said.

Other shows this season will include “The Lifespan of a Fact” on April 16-17, 23-24, 30 and May 1; “Outside Mullingar” on June 4- 5, 11,-12 and 18-19; “All-American Cabaret” on July 2-3, 9-10 and 16-17; and “The Importance of Being Earnest” on Aug. 6-7, 13-14 and 20-21. Each show will have seven performances with 8 p.m. evening show times on Fridays and Saturdays and 3 p.m. matinee showtimes on select Saturdays.

“This year, we were very conscious of choosing shows that we had control over the casting, the age group, and how we limit the safety of everyone. Again, we don’t know what will happen, necessarily, every day, or how things will progress, so we’ve taken everything slow. This first show has two people in it. The next show only has three people in the cast, and so on,” Shafor said.

In 2020, MLT closed down just days before the opening of “Twelfth Night.” The cast was in the final days of dress rehearsal for the production.

“In 2020, there was no income from three shows, so that hit us really hard,” Shafor said.

Fortunately, he said, a good portion of the season ticket holders have returned, and patrons have been generous with their donations. The Middletown Community Foundation has also continued to support Middletown Lyric Theatre.

“It’s a breath of fresh air to be perfectly honest. It’s putting us back together, we’re being creative, and we’re getting to see people we haven’t seen in a long time. Again, we’re following the rules, and I think as long as we do that, people are safe, and it’s nice,” Shafor said.

General admission tickets are $20 (plus applicable ticketing fees) and may be purchased at www.middletownlyric.org. Advance ticket purchase is required.

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