Meridian venues eager for the shows to go on

Paula Merritt / The Meridian Star file photo

Meridian Little Theatre Director Ellie Massey is eager for theater-goers to return, beginning with a dinner show at the end of the month.

Meridian's entertainment venue directors are making adjustments and plans as restrictions mandated because of the COVID-19 pandemic begin to lessen.

Meridian Little Theatre plans to present a dinner theater, Murder on the Menu, May 28-30.

Executive Director Ellie Massey said MLT is excited about producing a fun and delicious production.

With Sidney Covington and Jason Clayton heading up the mayhem, audience members can enjoy the food and participate in the whodunit.

“We are ready to see our patrons, and we will be working to keep them safe with social distancing measures and proper cleaning procedures,” Massey said.

In addition, MLT plans to present a bonus play on Aug. 20-24, Savannah Sippin’ Society.

“This is a delightful production about four ladies who meet by chance but quickly become close friends,” Massey said.

Connie Bishop, Donna P. Colburn, Covington and Massey will head up the free bonus play for season ticket holders.

The cast has been learning lines and Zooming on a regular basis, Massey said.

Since the production of Newsies had to be postponed, MLT was determined to keep the faith.

“We have never not delivered, and this is just our way of thanking a community who has supported us for 88 years,” Massey said.

MLT will start its new season with Newsies on Oct. 1-6, followed by the Sound of Music, Dec. 10-15; Stepping Out, Feb. 18-23; and Waitress, May 6-11.

The Mississippi State University Riley Center has also had to readjust its Spring/Summer schedule and has set new dates in the summer and fall.

Meridian venues eager for the shows to go on

Daniel Barnard

“We are hoping for the best, but we are planning for the worst,” Executive Director Dan Barnard said.

Grammy Award winner Sara Evans will be the first performance on Aug. 22; followed by Lula Del Ray, Aug. 29; Steel Betty with special guest JEMS, Oct. 16; and Bruce Hornsby, Dec. 3. Tickets purchased for the original dates will be honored.

“Our Fall/Winter lineup has been booked for 18 months," Barnard said. "We are so excited about the shows we have yet to announce. Artists have been very flexible about new dates for existing shows, and we will release the Fall/Winter series by July 1.”

Barnard adds that MSU Riley Center has a safety plan in place to provide social distancing when entering and exiting the theater.

“We are covering all bases, and we just want our patrons to know that we cannot wait to see them," Barnard said. "We will make sure we have considered every component in planning future performances.”

Meridian venues eager for the shows to go on

Mark Tullos

At The Mississippi Arts and Entertainment Experience, Executive Director Mark Tullos said, it has been providing many live-streaming events during the time of quarantine.

“We have expanded our presence on social media to offer gallery tours and close views of works in the collection,” Tullos said.

“Our Brown Bag Concert series has continued, and we are also offering streaming programs such as the History of Photography," Tullos said. "Also, we have MAX Art without Walls Art Contest, an online art competition in progress.”

The MAX has worked on capital projects during this time, including laying artificial turf in the outside areas and creating a digital billboard. The MAX will monitor the situation closely and will follow all guidelines of both local and state health agencies in keeping risks low, Tullos said.

Meridian venues eager for the shows to go on

File photo

Temple Theater owner Roger Smith said the COVID-19 pandemic forced the theater to postpone shows during its busiest season.

The historic Temple Theatre has also had to reschedule shows as it waits for restrictions to be lifted.

Owner/manager Roger Smith described this time to be “beyond difficult.”

“This pandemic hit at our busiest season which, culminates in April and May,” Smith said. 

The planned Price is Right has been postponed to Jan. 24, 2021.

Smith said staff is ready to clean and sanitize.

“We want all of patrons to stay healthy and safe," Smith said. "We look forward to seeing them back at the Temple Theater.”

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