Live events forced to be innovative with performances amid pandemic

Posted at 3:58 PM, Oct 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-22 18:31:29-04

PHOENIX — Right now, there is no light at the end of the tunnel and stages statewide are still in the dark.

Live events are another big part of Arizona's economy that COVID-19 took away.

"I like to perform in all the big musicals," said Lynzee Foreman. "Comedy is like, kind of my thing."

Foreman has been performing on stages for roughly 20 years and was set to take on her latest starring role in March when the pandemic took away her paycheck.

"We've all tried to find little things here and there to help off-set the finances that we've lost in this," Foreman explained. "But, a lot of us... this was our only job."

She is one of the thousands of performers who had no idea they may have taken their final bow back in March.

The Arizona Live Events Coalition says they surveyed 1,200 business owners in the industry. Almost 70% said they are going to have to close by January unless they get some help.

The coalition is pushing for Congress to pass legislation to offer some help their way because they estimate 12 million jobs and a contribution of roughly $1 trillion into the U.S. economy is on the line.

"It has had such a ripple effect in so many different areas of the economy that people don't typically think of," said Karla Frederick.

Frederick is the Phoenix Theatre Company's Director of Production.

"It's your Home Depots that we get our typical supplies from, it's your office supply stores, it's the restaurant industry, it's the hotel industry, it's taxis, it's Uber - it's... all of the industries that work together for people when they come for their entertainment," Frederick said. "And we are at the hub of all of that, and we are just handicapped at this point."

Frederick and her team decided to use their creative brains to build something new.

"Necessity is the mother of invention," Frederick laughed.

They came up with an outdoor venue that will be right across the street from their current space near Central Avenue and McDowell Road in Phoenix at the Central United Methodist Church.

The Phoenix Theatre Company is leading this project in partnership with KOV Entertainment and Clearwing Productions to build a space to get artists back to work.

"Across the board, we had to reinvent how the experience of the audience member is from the time they arrive to the time they leave the space," Frederick explained.

The chairs will be in pairs at the outdoor space and each pair will be six feet apart from other audience members. Aisles will have markers to allow for foot traffic to only flow in one direction. The stage will have large screens so every seat is the best seat in the house.

Artists, like Foreman, cannot wait for this space to open next month.

"Oh my gosh! I was so excited," Foreman laughed. "I think I cried a little bit."

It is a small glimmer of hope that she wants to pass on to the audience when they come to the new space.

"It will literally take all the weight off your shoulders, even if just for 90 minutes," Foreman said. "Just to escape for 90 minutes... have a laugh, have a cry about something else. Feel something different."

The Phoenix Theatre Company is now selling tickets for their outdoor space with shows beginning the first week of November and going through June of 2021. To look at the show dates and times that are available, click here.

Foreman also has an entertainment company with her husband, called Brock Entertainment. They are doing live outdoor rock 'n' roll shows in Fountain Hills that families can watch from their car or sit socially distant outside. To learn more about tickets to those performances, click here.