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Local 5 - weareiowa.com | Des Moines Local News & Weather | Des Moines, Iowa

Des Moines Community Playhouse wraps up 2020 with live shows, limited in-person attendance

The executive director said to continue putting on performances, the group had to change certain aspects of their operations for actors and audience members.

DES MOINES, Iowa — This year, most live performance venues have canceled shows or transitioned to virtual.

But the Des Moines Community Playhouse is making it their mission to still bring community members live theater.

The Playhouse is currently performing "Miracle on 34th Street", which is their 10th production of 2020.

Executive Director David Kilpatrick said to continue putting on performances, the group had to change certain aspects of their operations for actors and audience members.

The first started with addressing the number of people who were able to watch the shows.

"We're running at a 33 percent capacity," Kilpatrick said. "We've counted our seats and said 'Well 140 is not great, but we do have 412 seats, and we can make it work.'"

And it is not the only change individuals will notice.

Actors on the stage must wear masks. The specialty masks are clear so the audience is still able to see performer's facial expressions.

Actor Susan Eisenhour, who first performed on the Des Moines Community Playhouse stage 51 years ago, said she's glad management made the decision to make them wear masks.

"Of course we thought we could maybe do the show without masks at all for those of us on stage, but with the upsurge in Iowa you just don't dare mess around with that," Eisenhour said.

Kilpatrick added that even though they were able to have 10 shows this year with smaller crowds, the Playhouse has lost over $300,000.

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To help make up for some of this, Kilpatrick said they are holding a year-end fundraiser called "Playhouse Party in a Box".

"It's a box of party goods which is going to include an engraved champagne flute, some champagne or if it's for the kids it's sparkling cider," Kilpatrick said.

"It's all kind of fun things that just allows you to have a party and then we have created a special video on demand."

Kilpatrick said the video will include performances, in a cabaret-style, from many of their talent and staff. He also noted, they have one hundred party boxes and hope to sell as many as possible.