MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — After COVID-19 kept them closed, the curtains are rising again at Minnesota theaters as live shows take the stage.
WCCO’s Liz Collin visited her hometown of Worthington, where a new season means the return to a love story that started 70 years ago.READ MORE: Minneapolis School Switches To Distance Learning After Shooting At Nearby Homeless Encampment
For 16 months, Memorial Auditorium’s stage and 600 seats sat empty, as the pandemic made live shows at the 90-year-old theater impossible to plan. Tammy Makram is the auditorium’s managing director.
“The arts are like the heart and soul of what our lives are about,” Makram said. “We thought, well, it would be for a few weeks, so we postponed shows until May, and then we postponed shows until summer [laughs], and then we just decided, you know, we just needed to hold off.”
It gave Makram more time to choreograph a memorable season, one that first will spotlight Children’s Theater Company’s Dakota Players and the “Missing Mountain Mystery” Friday night. But it’s a production in March, Gilbert and Sullivan’s “Pirates of Penzance,” that holds special meaning.
“When Jean came forward and said, ‘Oh by the way, 70 years ago I was in “The Pirates of Penzance” on this stage 70.’ It was just a story that I couldn’t resist,” Makram said.READ MORE: Willmar Community Bands Together To Support Father Of Twins After Wife's Untimely Death To Cancer
Jean Doeden was a sophomore in high school in 1951 when she eyed a certain senior on stage who played the lead — her late husband Sidney.
“I liked the idea of getting into the choir, of course, and so tried out. And the day I looked up to look at see who got on, I was on the list,” Doeden said. “I was a little sophomore and he was the senior, so he found me [laughs]!”
The Doedens went on to raise kids and grandkids who followed their footsteps to Memorial’s stage, where Jean now has her own seat in the back and barely misses a show. She’s looking forward to a better view for her full-circle moment come spring.
“I didn’t buy the back seat though [laughs]! I told Tammy to get me something closer to the front!” Doeden said.MORE NEWS: Twin Cities Thai Restaurant Hires Robot Server Amid Staffing Shortage
There are nine shows in total running from Friday night until April at the Memorial Auditorium. Click here for tickets.