BROOKSVILLE — Adaptability is an actor’s best friend when performing on stage, and for the past few months with its doors closed due to COVID-19, the Live Oak Theatre has had to adapt to new times.
In early November, Live Oak Theatre will present to the public the inaugural performance of “Adventures in Wonderland” by Acorn Theatre, its newest youth theatre program for students 8 to 18 years old.
Following the youth performance is another first for the theatre company as it kicks off its “Shakespeare on the Green” series with an outdoor showing of “The Bard Unleashed,” also in November.
“We’re just about to celebrate our 12th year,” said Vince Vanni, dramatic coach for Live Oak Theatre. “We have been, for most of our lives, a nomadic troupe. In other words, we would adapt to a variety of different places where we were in residence.
“When (COVID-19) happened and we were able to collect our thoughts, the first thing we did as a board was say, ‘OK, we are used to adapting, how do we adapt?’” Vanni said. “We’ve been lucky, we have some patrons who’ve been able to subsidize us so we could stay afloat and keep the bills paid.”
When COVID-19 brought a mandated state lockdown earlier this year, Live Oak Theatre had to cancel two of its spring musicals. Season tickets were also off the table, further cutting off a main supply of income for the theatre.
Luckily during the summer, Live Oak Theatre was able to continue its summer camp for children by hosting smaller camps with a limited number of participants.
“We had camps all summer long and there was social distancing,” Vanni said. “That’s where we got into the concept of the youth theatre. The kids that started with us, that were 10 (years old), are now 18 and 20, and they’re still with us. They’ve grown into bigger roles.”
Vanni further explained how Acorn Theatre gives teenagers and young adults an opportunity to get involved by mentoring up-and-coming child actors participating in the program.
The Acorn Theatre production team includes rotating directors and instructors who are supported by a team of apprentices in the areas of stage manager, assistant director, costumes, choreography, lighting, sound, music, and set design.
Students meet twice a week after school to learn every skill involved in musical theatre, such as acting, singing, and dancing.
“These kids are amazing!” said Andi Garner, director at Live Oak Theatre. “They are eager to learn and willing to create, and it’s magical with just enough crazy.”
“Adventures in Wonderland” is an original interpretation of the classic tale “Alice in Wonderland” and “Through the Looking-Glass,” written by Lewis Carrol.
The show will feature original songs, such as “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Bat,” “Rabbit Hole,” and “Wonderland.”
“The Bard Unleashed,” on the other hand, will feature some of Shakespeare’s most recognizable plays but with a twist.
“We are used to writing a lot of our own materials,” Vanni said. “The big change that COVID had was we had plans to do some of the major musicals but because of financing, we couldn’t do anything.
“We picked things in the public domain and we created our own stuff,” Vanni continued. “We picked the bard and created this collection, we took the story of ‘Alice in Wonderland’ and put together our own musical. Our audiences know that they can come and be pleasantly surprised all of the time.”
Performance dates for “Adventures in Wonderland” are scheduled for Nov. 5-8 at the Carol and Frank Morsani Center for the Arts, 21030 Cortez Blvd., Brooksville.
Seats are $15 for adults and $5 for children 13 years and younger, when accompanied by an adult. Indoor seating will be limited to 50% capacity.
Performance dates for “The Bard Unleashed” are scheduled for Nov. 13-14 and Nov. 20-22.
Seats are $15 for adults and $5 for children 13 years and younger, when accompanied by an adult.
Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evening shows are at 7:30 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday matinees are at 2:30 p.m.
Live Oak Theatre will be observing COVID-19 precautions with temperature checks at the door, hand sanitizer stations set up throughout the building, and masks required for indoor performances.
While outside, social-distanced seats are available and masks are not required unless standing in line or going indoors.
Tickets are on sale for both shows and can be purchased by visiting liveoaktheatre.square.site or by emailing the box office at email@example.com, as well as calling 352-593-0027.
Photos courtesy of LIVE OAK THEATRE