ROCK ISLAND, Illinois — The lights are back up on the Circa '21 Dinner Playhouse, as actors are hard at work rehearsing for the first show on the main stage after a nearly six month closure.
Opening night for "The Savannah Sipping Society" is next Wednesday, September 9th.
Actor Shelley Walljasper says she's excited to be back on stage, after the curtain closed on their production of "Saturday Night Fever" back in March.
"It was sad and depressing," she says. "No one knew what was going on."
Now, the dinner theatre's plan moving forward will be a big change, for both the audience and actors.
"When you're doing a comedy, it's always more fun when you have a packed house and everyone is laughing and everything," Actor Kimber'y Kurtenbach says. "It'll be interesting as actors to work with a smaller audience in a big space."
Dinner will be full table service to limit contact. Only people will be allowed in the audience, spaced out throughout the theatre.
"We certainly have room for a couple of hundred of people and still stay 6 feet apart," Producer Denny Hitchcock says.
He hopes Governor J.B. Pritzker will change in his reopening plan to increase capacity for restaurants and theatres, as Circa '21 Dinner Playhouse has to follow both guidelines.
"If something doesn't happen, we won't be here," Hitchcock says. "We can't survive on 50 people."
Everyone on staff and in the audience will need to wear a face mask, even the actors at different points in the play. The actors says it feels a little clumsy to wear while performing.
"I'm taking more breath in and I'm sucking my mask into my mouth," Walljasper says.
But the actors are taking these steps to keep everyone safe and keep the theatre going.
"This theatre is like a home," Kurtenbach says. "We need to be entertained a little bit, laugh, and get away from the world."
Opening night and weekend are sold out, but some tickets are still available for future dates. Tickets and subscriptions are also on sale now for future shows at the Circa '21 Dinner Playhouse.