Fox Theatre to reopen mid-April, gives Conservatory students new hope

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After over a year of no live shows, the Fabulous Fox Theatre is back. Students at Webster expressed excitement and hope in seeing live performances return to the theatre.

On March 29, the Fabulous Fox Theatre announced that live performances will begin to take place this month after over a year of no live shows. The concert series “STL Sounds at the Fabulous Fox” includes local bands, a comedy show and events celebrating the anniversary of past concerts. The first show, “City Showcase: Comedy at the Fox,” will take place April 17.

“We are all anxious to get back to what we have been doing for the past four decades – bringing the best of live entertainment to St. Louis,” Jana Scharnhorst, vice president of Marketing at the Fabulous Fox Theatre, said.

The announcement for this series came days after the Fox Theatre announced Broadway shows will be returning later this year. Starting in November and going into 2022, shows like “Hamilton” and “The Lion King” will finally have a chance to take the stage in St. Louis after being postponed more than a year ago.

Scharnhorst explained national tours of Broadway shows and concerts will take much longer to get back on the road. She said having this local act series will be a way for the Fox Theatre to ramp up their local programming and move to larger capacities.

With the Fox Theatre returning to live shows, Scharnhorst said she hopes “students will feel confident to get back to their productions.”

Gregory Almanza, a directing major at Webster University, was excited for the Fox Theatre to reopen.

“I am thrilled that the Fox is reopening. It means there is a way to move forward for the industry at large. And this is happening all over,” Almanza said.

In the past year, Webster’s Conservatory and the university’s other theatre programs have had to move to a completely virtual or hybrid model. This new way of performing comes with added precautions. The added safety measures have made planning more meticulous and Almanza explained it has felt like learning a new language.

“Actors are not to be blocked within 6 feet of another actor at one time, there has been a significant reduction in the amount of prop hand offs between actors and, of course, they must wear masks. Backstage, we have our dressing and deck crews wearing heightened [personal protective equipment] and their tracks are almost as choreographed as the moves on stage,” Almanza said.

Webster acting major Phillip Solheim noted similar measures. With all of the precautions being taken, he is still grateful he has gotten to work on his craft during this time while flexing his adaptation muscles.

Although there have been changes in the curriculum, like focusing more on self tapes, rehearsing remotely, social distancing, masking while performing and district cleaning, Alegra Batara, a musical theatre major at Webster, said the pandemic has allowed her to share her art with her family.

“Because we’ve streamed our shows, our families from all over the country are able to view our work. My extended family hasn’t been able to see a lot of the shows I’ve done in school because they’re all on the West Coast, so it meant a lot that they were able to tune in,” Batara said.

Batara also expressed that she hopes the Fox Theatre and other companies that travel through take the past year of dark stages and the conversations that have been happening to heart.

“Revitalized conversations about race, gender, sexuality, mental and physical health, accessibility, etc have been non-stop and many theatre organizations are starting to make changes that have the potential to greatly impact marginalized people both on and off-stage in really positive ways,” Batara said.

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