Taking the stage: A Grandstreet season like no other
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Taking the stage: A Grandstreet season like no other

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Saturday, the curtain rises on a much-changed season for Grandstreet Theatre starting with their first-ever virtual gala.

Like other art groups in Helena, Grandstreet Theatre is reinventing itself due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We’re gearing up for our gala and this is the first time we’re doing a virtual event (6 p.m. Saturday May 23),” said managing director Kal Poole.

“There’s a learning curve we’re experiencing right now. It feels like we’re building the plane as we’re flying it.”

Poole supports Governor Bullock’s stay-at-home order, he said, and for the most part feels good about how well things are going in Montana.

“If you’re in the public-gathering business, the short-term moves are very important to long-term survivability.”

And like the very best heroes in heroines in theater, Grandstreet is showing its grit as it digs deep during this pandemic to not only survive, but flourish.

“We’re trying to be as flexible and fluid as possible,” said Poole. “We scrapped our whole season. We’re going to kick it down the road a year.”

Grandstreet will be announcing its newly constructed season at the gala.

“It’s a very different kind of year,” said artistic director Jeff Downing.

It has some Grandstreet favorites and a few new shows, but all are hush hush until Saturday.

Two things that are fairly certain -- Grandstreet will be doing “The Sound of Music” this summer as a socially-distanced performance outdoors -- possibly at Hill Park.

They hope to open the show July 24 and run it through Aug. 16.

This summer, “We’re going to explore outdoor theater,” Poole said. ” We’re going to spread our audience enough and have them socially distanced with 6-feet between blankets.

And “Matilda,” which was slated to open this spring, will be the first indoor show, Oct. 2, at Grandstreet, if all goes well with flattening the COVID-19 curve in Montana.

Grandstreet has more surprises, as well.

First things -- the Gala

Two ticket levels are available for Saturday’s virtual gala:

The Full Gala $75 ticket includes a boxed dinner from Chili O’Brien’s Catering, a bottle of wine or sparkling cider, access to the virtual event and fundraiser and entry for a chance to win a very exciting door prize! (All tickets for the live Gala in March were automatically rolled over to virtual tickets. Check your email for more info.)

Or buy a Gala Lite ticket for $3, which will get you access to the virtual event only.

Your ticket purchase will get you access to two websites:

  • A Zoom session for music from one of Helena’s favorite dance bands, Ten Years Gone, plus the season announcement, which includes performances from the upcoming shows, and a post event question-and-answer Session; and
  • A Gala platform at accelevents.com for silent auctions, a raffle, donation opportunities and an exclusive opportunity for buying discounted season passes! “We’re offering the least expensive season pass we have offered for ages!” Poole said.
  • A Golden Pass (Discounted) -- One ticket to each show in the ‘20-21 Season is $109;
  • A Double Golden Pass (Discounted) -- Two tickets to each show is $199. Those buying a season pass at the Gala or Gala Lite will be entered for an additional chance to win “The Most Amazing Door Prize of All Time.”

The winner wins a ticket, to any show, anywhere, anytime in the next three years - up to $3,000 -- for tickets, travel and lodging. (Those with a full Gala ticket who buy season passes will be entered twice.)

Visit GrandstreetTheatre.com for tickets and more information.

If you’re concerned about picking up your meal or are in need of tech support, call 442-4270 or visit gst@grandstreettheatre.com.

More exciting news

Grandstreet Summer Camp returns with a new twist.

Grandstreet is planning to offer a live summer camp starting July 13, with some alterations to keep students and staff safe -- such as taking temperatures, using facemasks, lowering enrollment numbers and reducing class sizes.

“We’ll know a lot more in a couple weeks,” said education director Marianne Adams, of whether the camp can go forward.

“Helena has done such a terrific job of ...(managing) the virus,” she said, “but if it’s unsafe, we won’t do it.”

In June, Grandstreet’s got an exciting new option of an online theater camp for kids grades 3rd through 12th.

Class runs June 8 to 12, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Mountain Time.

Adams, and a group of fellow Freddie G Fellowship teaching award colleagues around the country, have developed a new virtual summer theater -- Musical Theatre Mega Camp -- that features a few special Broadway guests who will be dropping in.

Six different theater companies are coming together to design and teach classes in

acting, singing and choreography for all skill levels, as well as the basics of auditioning and warming up, said Adams.

A new sliding-scale tuition option is available for the virtual theater camp.

Registration is limited so sign up soon. It is open nationwide.

Enroll at mtmegacamp.com or ttps://tickets.grandstreettheatre.com/TheatreManager/1/tmEvent/tmEvent685.html

For more information, call 442-4270 or email

marianne@grandstreettheatre.com..

‘Matilda’ and more

“Canceling ‘Matilda’ was never really an option,” said artistic director Jeff Downing.

It was already well on its way in rehearsal, and the set was already built when the lockdown began.

“We were already halfway there,” said Downing of their March 12 rehearsal for the first act, which was the last time the cast met in-person. ‘It was just a really positive, wonderful run through.”

“We love the show,” said Downing, which is a Tony-winning musical.

Grandstreet’s continued to do some rehearsals virtually, and they plan to be back rehearsing on stage in September, if all goes well.

In other COVID-19 developments, Grandstreet has been offering its own YouTube production, “From Grandstreet to Your Street,” hosted by Downing every Thursday at 7 p.m.

“It’s just a fun way to keep putting positive energy out into the world for our Grandstreet community.

“I have different performers send in short songs each week. We have mini-cabarets where we share fun little stories, Grandstreet memories and great photos. It’s just a way to continue to serve our mission statement.”

To watch these productions, visit https://grandstreettheatre.com/2020/03/31/from-grandstreet-to-your-street/.

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