A group of local thespians, led by area arts stalwart Cathy Reinheimer, is making sure that in-person theatrical performances are not a thing of the past amid ongoing COVID-19 concerns, restrictions on gatherings and seemingly endless cancellations.
Beginning next Thursday, July 30, and continuing hopefully into September, Reinheimer and her cohort will host Field Daze of Summer 2020, a series of outdoor, COVID-safe performances by top local talent like Mike Murphy, Melodie Taylor-Mauldin, Jana Arnold, Kagen Albright and many more.
“Basically, a bunch of the theater companies in town gathered with me to talk about the state of theater through COVID, how they had to remain closed for their summer seasons,” Reinheimer explained. “I called the meeting to talk about what would be possible this summer on a private property. It’s all about making sure the artists could be part of the summer experience and making sure the audiences have something fun to enjoy.”
Each weekend will feature a different lineup of artists performing on the east field of Reinheimer Ranch, just south of downtown Ketchum and across state Highway 75 from the large white Reinheimer Barn.
The series will kick off on Thursday and Friday, July 30-31, with performances by students and graduates of the Wood River High School drama department—who still had one more show left to perform at the end of the school year when everything got shut down.
The students and recent graduates—including Koi Lauritsen, Annabelle Lewis, Sarah Feltman, Juliette Rollins and Taylor Telford—are putting together what Reinheimer described as “an evening of zany, fun vignettes from different plays.”
Audience sizes will be limited in keeping with whatever coronavirus restrictions are in place at showtime, but the state currently permits large crowds as long as social distancing is observed.
Theatergoers will have to bring their own seating and maintain safe distances. Since the sun has been oppressively hot lately, Reinheimer is providing a large festival tent for shady coverage. The events will all follow a BYO format for food and beverages. Masks or face shields are also required.
Reinheimer has procured a number of transparent face shields for the actors so they can perform safely without compromising their expressivity.
“The shields are great. They feel like nothing and audiences can still see people’s expressions and have a real experience,” Reinheimer explained.
Local actor Kagen Albright, a graduate of the WRHS Performing Arts program, was one of the first artists to jump on board Field Daze of Summer.
“It’s time for live entertainment to bring people together again, as it always does—during uncertain times, we need to laugh again, and begin it at the grass-roots level,” Albright said.
He described the project as a way to “give back” to the community that helped foster his creative development before he heads off to college in the fall.
A few of the acts are still to be pegged down for specific dates, but tickets are now available for two nights of entertainment by local comedy legend Mike Murphy on Thursday and Friday, Aug. 13-14. Murphy has been keeping audiences laughing throughout the valley for about the last 40 years, so his reputation precedes him.
Tickets for that program are $20 apiece, and the comedian plans to donate his proceeds to the Sun Valley Culinary Institute, which was forced to postpone many of its opening plans after a March 11 ribbon cutting was swiftly followed by the local arrival of coronavirus that same week.
Reservations will be required for attendance. The project’s new website launched just yesterday, on Tuesday, July 21. Prospective theatergoers can visit www.FIELDdaze2020.org to learn more, purchase tickets and find updates on future shows as they come.
More local artists are joining the roster with each passing day, so be sure to keep an eye trained on the website for developments. For more information, email Cathy Reinheimer at lulureinLab@gmail.com
“We’re going to have theater, comedy and musical events to run, we’re hoping, through mid-September,” Reinheimer said. “We’re too hungry to stop at silly Labor Day or before. This is a way for all the thespians of the county to basically work out those theater muscles again, get inspired and connect with the community.”