GRAND HAVEN, Mich. — The Central Park Players have been entertaining the lakeshore and the city of Grand Haven since 1959. The theatre survives only by ticket sales and donations with their usual five shows a year. That was until March of 2020 however, when the COVID-19 pandemic shut down everything.
Walking onto the stage for the first time in over a year, husband and wife Joe and Natalie Carmolli say they're feeling mixed emotions about stepping back into the spotlight. They have been part of the theatre company for 23 years.
"For me and for most people in the theatre industry, we didn't believe this was going to be long-term, first of all...So we went into it thinking, 'Ok we just have to reschedule a couple of things' and we weren't even sure we were going to have to do that, but we had to have a 'Plan B', right?" Natalie said.
Those plans turned into, embracing video, as a means to not only keep each other entertained, but also to share their talents in a collective community wide effort. Zoom became the new stage but both Joe and Natalie admit, it is a different way to reach an audience.
"You miss that back and forth connection," said Joe. "However, we've been busier this past year than most years. I usually do one play a year, maybe I'll do two, we've acted together three times this year and we've each directed something since the pandemic started, so we are busy!"
While the theatre has remained empty for nearly a year, it stunted the company's fundraising plans to help restore the theatre's stage floor.
Though the stage floors are in desperate needs of repair, the theatre has only reached a fraction of what they need to repair the flooring. The company plans to hold a virtual fundraiser in March.
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