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Show Must Go On: Des Moines Playhouse Creates Live Theatre Drive-In During Pandemic

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DES MOINES, Iowa — Though the 50 percent capacity is now lifted for businesses in Iowa, many are still having to get creative during this pandemic to ensure social distancing and keeping people safe. The Des Moines Playhouse is doing that by hosting a drive-in live theatre.

Local actress Kellie Kramer is no stranger to the stage at the Des Moines playhouse performing in front of big lights and large crowds, but this is first, performing in front of a parking lot full of cars.

“It’s a really different feel to look out and see just a sea of cars instead of people you know in live theater you’re feeding off that audience energy so it’s different when you just see cars,” Kramer said.

Audience members find their parking spot and tune in their radio dial to sit back, relax, and watch a live performance.

“We all want to be able to express ourselves and see something artistic and live even though we can’t be close to each other. So this is our solution,” Katy Merriman, Des Moines Playhouse’s Artistic Director said.

Performing “Love Letters,” the play lends itself to this unique scenario.

“It’s a perfect script for something like this. There are two actors and we sit at tables the whole time, so we’re social distant, the crowd gets to social distance. It’s really perfect to try this out,” Kramer said.

Having live performances back is giving people a sense of normalcy, but more importantly, the playhouse said this serves as a little intermission from the current strains on life.

“When you come to a live performance you get to sit still and turn off your brain and just enjoy being able to watch someone’s story for a little while. So I hope it can give everyone a break from the stress that a lot of us are feeling,” Merriman said.

Opening night for “Love Letters” is Friday night. It is a pay what you can admission and concessions to support the playhouse. You can reserve a parking spot online here.

They almost have a sold-out show, but if you can’t make it to the first play they have two more performances planned throughout the summer.

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