Key West’s Red Barn Theatre – now entering its 41st professional season – has found some ways to step “Outside the Box” by welcoming patrons back to the theater experience while making sure they are doing so in the safest and healthiest way possible.
In keeping with its “Outside the Box” theme, the Red Barn’s new season will make full use of the open-air Zabar courtyard that fronts the theater. The bricked space, comfortable and shielded by the overhang of a royal poinciana and surrounded by the foliage of Betsy’s Garden, is large enough to accommodate a decent-sized stage, and socially distanced outdoor seating for upwards of 40 theater-lovers. The Key West Woman’s Club, whose building fronts the property along Duval Street and which owns the courtyard space, has endorsed the Red Barn’s plans.
“In a survey of our patrons earlier this year, we found that most indicated they were not comfortable sitting inside a closed theater space just yet, but they’d most certainly come back to theater if we could present our productions outdoors,” said Bob Bowersox, actor, producer and publicity director for the theater. “So we took our time, looked at the options, and found we had exactly what our patrons were asking for sitting right in front of us.”
Artistic Director Joy Hawkins has planned a full season of live theater in the courtyard space, and thrown in a couple of unique online extras.
One of those extras will kick off the Red Barn’s 41st “Outside the Box” season Nov. 25-28 with an online production of Nora and Delia Ephron’s “Love, Loss and What I Wore.” The play, which was a hit for the theater back in 2013, will be brought to life again in a new incarnation performed live and recorded. Patrons will be able to access the streaming show through the Red Barn’s website, redbarntheatre.com. Those purchasing any of the season membership levels will be admitted free. Tickets are otherwise $10.
“This is a show that is tailor-made for the Zoom platform,” said Bowersox, who is producing, with veteran Carole MacCartee directing. “Five women, talking to the audience and among themselves about the trials and tribulations of clothes. It’s hard not to be laughing every second – it’s one of those plays that’s enormously funny because it’s so true and everyone can relate.”
The play will star Key West’s Barbara Mundy, Melody G. Moore, Peggy Montgomery, Susannah Wells and Amber McDonald Good. Tickets can be purchased at redbarntheatre.com and the link and password to the show will be offered at the end of the transaction.
The other extra will be a Christmas gift to Key West – a free offering of “With Bells On,” which made its premiere last Christmas at the Red Barn. It also will stream across the Red Barn’s website Dec. 16 – 20. Starring Trey Gerrald and Don Bearden, and directed and costumed by Christopher Peterson, the show revolves around a meek and mild accountant stuck in an elevator with a flamboyant drag queen on Christmas Eve. Access to the free streaming video of the play will again be through redbarntheatre.com. If patrons are so inclined, they can return the gift by making a donation in support of the Red Barn when they access the website.
The main stage shows planned for the “Outside the Box” outdoor theater space will run January through April. First up is “Quarantine for Two,” a brand new play from Key West’s Hy Conrad, who is well-known for his writing on TV’s “Monk” series. The show will run Jan. 12 through Feb. 6.
Planned for Feb. 23 through March 20 is “Cats Talk Back” by Bess Wohl, a funny “Waiting for Guffman”-style parody that purportedly reveals the secrets behind the making of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s legendary musical and the dark side of the Great White Way.
And winding up the Red Barn’s season March 30 through April 24 will be “Sez She” by Jane Martin. The show is performed by five actresses, who reveal through monologues the funnier, stranger sides of these early days of the 21st century. Hilarity, surprise, and homespun philosophy top the contemporary perspective on everything from sexual harassment to sleeping in theaters to the erotic appeals of silence.
The Red Barn’s annual membership drive is in full swing and can be accessed through redbarntheatre.com. Membership revenue is critical to the Red Barn’s operations, and each level comes with its own special perks, which are available on the website.
Subscriptions to the season are also available, which allow patrons to assemble their tickets to the various shows, for which seating will be limited. For more information, visit redbarntheatre.com or call 305-296-9911.