By Samantha Flavell - Amherst Bee - 6/23/21
Live performances by MusicalFare return June 23 with the production of “Love, Linda: The Life of Mrs. Cole Porter,” a one-woman musical that recounts through song and story the life of Linda Lee Thomas and her life with Cole Porter.
After a hiatus from live shows due to COVID-19, the theater community is eager and excited to get back on stage and veer away from virtual performances in favor of once again performing in front of a live audience.
“Being back is something that obviously everyone has been looking forward to. Not just the company; everybody in the theater community is happy to be getting back on stage and getting to do what they haven’t been able to do,” said Doug Weyand the marketing and production coordinator for MusicalFare. “I mean literally every artistic person has been sitting at home, unless they did a livestream somewhere along the line. But they haven’t performed in front of a live audience.”
With COVID restrictions easing and the number of vaccinated individuals increasing, MusicalFare is excited to welcome audience members back and ease back into live performances starting with this one-act, one-woman wonder.
“The cast for this, it’s a one-woman show. We purposely did that just to get people more comfortable because you don’t want to throw 20 performers at them. So, we’re doing a small show; it’s only an hour and five minutes long,” Weyand said. “There’s no intermission so it’s not like you’re going and sitting through the first act and then you have a 15-minute wait and then you have another act. So, you don’t feel like you’re there for a long time either. So, it’s giving people the entertainment that they want but keeping it restricted to a certain extent.”
Linda Lee Thomas, or Mrs. Cole Porter, is played by Debbie Pappas. Throughout the one-act musical Pappas enlivens her character to recount the life of Thomas and Cole Porter celebrating their love that blossomed through the unconventional relationship.
The musical showcases the fact that even though Porter was gay, the companion- ship and love between him and Thomas lasted through 35 years of marriage and a glamour-filled life. The musical scores are all music and lyrics of Cole Porter and include titles like “Love for Sale,” “Night and Day,” “Let’s Do It” and “Let’s Misbehave.”
“It’s a quick, nice, lovely little piece that is just going to enchant people and give them an hour’s worth of entertainment where they won’t have to watch TV,” Weyand said. “Obviously go at your own comfort level but all the theaters in town, including us, are taking all the precautions and are eagerly and enthusiastically awaiting their return. There is nothing like being in a room and experiencing something communally. It’s your first chance to get back out there, give it a try and see how you feel.”
Performances will be held at 7 p.m. today, June 23, and tomorrow, Thursday, June 24, as well as at 3:30 p.m. Saturday, June 26, and 2 p.m. Sunday, June 27. There is no 7:30 p.m. Saturday performance for this production.
There will be one non-vaccinated performance held on Thursday, July 1. No proof of vaccination will be required but all patrons are required to wear face masks at all times and observe social distancing. Seating will not be assigned but will be limited to approximately 33% of capacity with social distancing between seats. Vaccinated individuals are able to attend this showing as well.
All other performances of “Love, Linda” will be for vaccinated individuals and proof of vaccination such as a New York State Excelsior Pass or vaccination card with a photo ID will be required to enter. Seating for vaccinated-only performances will be at 76% capacity.
“We did a survey of our subscribers before we even announced the show coming in and like 97% of them wanted to come back immediately; 97% of them only wanted to come back if everyone was vaccinated in the audience. So basically that’s why we’re doing the vaccinated-only production. At least for this production, it will probably adjust as things move along into September for the beginning of the season,” Weyand said. “We’re only selling the vaccinated performance to 76% [capacity] of our seating. We’re allowed to sell it all the way but we’re choosing to do it to 76%. Because that way there is still some distancing between people. Because you don’t know how you’re going to feel the first time you’re back in the audience.”
Tickets are $49 and the performance is sponsored by Beechwood Continuing Care.
“I’m really, really hoping that people will take the chance and will enjoy the lovely performance that we’re putting on,” Weyand said.