The Show Goes on at Cincinnati’s Children’s Theater
CINCINNATI — The arts and entertainment industry has taken a huge hit during the pandemic with many theaters and concert halls having to cancel performances time and again, but The Children’s Theater of Cincinnati has found creative ways to keep its shows running.
“The Children’s Theater location on Red Bank Road in Cincinnati is normally not where we perform our main stage, “ said Roderick Justice, The Children’s Theater producing artistic director. “Our main stage is typically at the Taft Theater with 2,200 seats.”
When COVID-19 hit, The Children’s Theater of Cincinnati, which is the longest running children’s theater in America, moved its performances to its headquarters a few miles from downtown where it’s been holding live performances since November.
The performances are quite different, not only because they’re performing to a live audience of no more than44 people, but the theater has also implemented masks into the costumes and they look quite different from masks worn by the general public.
“All of the shows lend themselves to having masks” Justice said. “The animal mask is incorporated over their mouths and we have a recording studio where we recorded the entire production. They just pantomime to their own voice. We’re digging into concepts that are 600 years old with mask wear and pantomiming.”
They’ve also taken inspiration from the exaggerated ways that mascots engage with people.
“They use their arms and they have to animate their heads because they don’t have a physical mouth to move. So we had to learn from the mascot world how you can tell a story and animate yourself moving just your eyes,” said Justice.
Still, having to create COVID-19-conducive costumes hasn’t been the easiest task. The theater’s costume designer, Jeff Shearer, has had to design his own templates and designs for the implementing of face-masks into costumes, even having to do “face-fittings” for actors.
Another innovation that The Children’s Theater has put into play is that it’s begun offering its shows digitally, allowing patrons to view them from the comfort and safety of their own homes.
“If you don’t feel comfortable seeing it live, you can stream it on ‘Broadway on Demand,’” he said. “We want people to feel safe and encourage those people to view the shows digitally.”
All of the theater’s shows will be online through the streaming service “Broadway on Demand” and although the changes and adaptations are considered not ideal, in the world of theater, the show must go on.