HOMETOWN ENTERTAINMENT: Mill Mountain Theatre prepares for full slate of productions this fall and winter

Covid protocols include mask requirements for patrons and longer show runs to keep audiences smaller
Published: Sep. 16, 2021 at 7:53 AM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - If you’ve been missing live theatre, you’ll be excited to know Mill Mountain Theatre has some big shows to keep you entertained for the rest of the year.

“Legally Blonde” will open September 22 on the Trinkle Main Stage.

“We’ve worked really hard to assemble an amazing cast and everyone’s really hungry to do theatre after this crazy amount of time that we haven’t been able to do it,” says Kristen Sandler, who’s the director- choreographer for “Legally Blonde.”

It was a long 18-month pause in live theatre, due to the pandemic.

But Mill Mountain leaders say it did provide them some time to strategize.

It’s given a chance to really reflect on how we’re operating as a business and how we’re taking care of our staff. I think that’s the silver lining for us,” Ginger Poole, the producing artistic director at Mill Mountain Theatre.

“Legally Blonde” opens next week with some changes, including a smaller cast, as part of the theatre’s pandemic protocol.

“We have a take on it that’s a more current take. The casting is very diverse. And it’s also something we’re tackling. This is coming from a strategic look at safety. We’re doing Legally Blond with 12 people,” says Poole.

Sandler adds, “Elle is the only person in the whole show that isn’t playing more than three roles.”

Along with the return of big stage shows, education is also a big priority for Mill Mountain.

Its conservatory offers classes for Pre-K through adult students.

“We offer singing, dance, and technical theatre. So, we’re proud of the program we have here and what I call “we build our own.” So that we train these students, and hopefully they will join us backstage or a run crew or even be onstage with us,” says Poole.

We asked, what is it about live theater that’s so important for the audience?

Poole says it’s that sense of community that we all need right now.

“I think it’s that exchange, it’s that relationship between the story tellers on stage and the patrons in the audience. They are part of that show,” says Poole.

“Legally Blonde” opens Wednesday, September 22 and runs through October 17.

And like many other entertainment venues, Mill Mountain Theatre will require masks for everyone attending its productions.

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