Here’s How Community Theater Groups Are Dealing with the Pandemic

Caitlin Boyle, photos by Andrea Paulseth |

SOME 'DISENCHANTED' EVENING. A rehearsal of the upcoming Eau Claire Children's Theatre production of Disenchanted.
SOME DISENCHANTED EVENING. A rehearsal of the upcoming Eau Claire Children's Theatre production of Disenchanted.

As the summer begins to heat up in the Chippewa Valley, so will the community theater scene. The Eau Claire Children’s Theatre and the Chippewa Valley Theatre Guild have been busy re-evaluating how they put on shows so employees, actors, and audience members are healthy and safe during the pandemic.

For starters, ECCT will raise the curtain at The Oxford for Disenchanted on Thursday, June 11, with social distancing practices in place. ECCT’s Facebook page says chairs in the auditorium will now be 10 feet from the stage with rows at least six feet apart, and four chairs will be left empty between families as they are seated. (Read more about ECCT health protocols here.) The show will also be offered as a live-stream, and both in-person and streaming tickets are available for purchase at

Disenchanted – a comic PG13-rated musical that turns familiar princess fairy tales on their heads – will be staged at 7:30pm June, 11, 12, and 13 and June 14 at 1:30pm.

Another local production is a virtual, socially distant performance of Oscar Wilde’s classic farce The Importance of Being Earnest, which was (virtually) staged in May by a local troupe, Performance Anxiety. Directed by UW-Eau Claire grad Logan Toftness and featuring the talents of numerous Chippewa Valley theater veterans, the play can be streamed free of charge at

Meanwhile, CVTG’s production of Matilda the Musical has been moved to next summer, and the lights will remain down for the foreseeable future. Executive Director Ann Sessions says as a partner with the Eau Claire Area School District, all in-person summer theater arts classes and workshops have been cancelled. However, young theater students can still hone their acting chops online. She says the Guild is putting free drama activities for kids and families on their Facebook page. They are also working on a variety of online Shakespeare activities, content, and possible (virtual) performances later this summer.