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Brooke Hills Playhouse Is Adjusting Plans for 49th Season Amid COVID-19

The Brooke Hills Playhouse is setting the stage for a unique season. (Photo Provided)

WELLSBURG — The Brooke Hills Playhouse is adjusting the plans for its 49th season in light of the limitations imposed by the COVID-19 virus. According to Julia Barnhart of Wellsburg, president of the Playhouse’s parent organization, the Brooke County Arts Council, that group’s board of directors is hard at work on other events for the Playhouse’s abbreviated 49th season, “…with the safety of all as our top priority.”

Barnhart explained that, “We will be keeping in touch with Brooke County Health Department, and we plan to space patrons properly, and to disinfect acting and audience spaces multiple times during each performance.”

She added that, “We are still a full two months away from any public performance, so the narrative could change many times, but it is our goal to give everyone a night of entertainment in the safest possible way for our volunteers and patrons.”

The Playhouse’s 49th season is sponsored by Municipal Mutual Insurance Company and by Traubert’s Pharmacy of Wellsburg. The season will include a full-scale production of “The Red Velvet Cake War,” a comedy by the team of Jessie Jones, Nicholas Hope and Jamie Wooten, as well as the possibilities of a live evening of music, and a play for younger actors. The Playhouse’s fundraiser, “Save the Barn 2,” is underway at present.

“The musical evening is still being planned but there have been mixed reactions to the concept,” Barnhart noted. “We will be making a decision soon and, if we do proceed, we would hold video auditions late in June.”

Emily Hores of Wellsburg is in charge of the project. Barnhart, who usually directs the Playhouse’s annual production for younger actors, reported, “I am going to put out something on FaceBook, asking if any of our kids are interested in doing a play.”

Barnhart added that, “Details still are being hammered out, but I am not sure if parents would want their kids involved in a regular, live show, due to the Covid-19 situation.” A final decision will be made on the young actors’ production after the results of the FaceBook poll have been tabulated.

Barnhart said, “It may just be something with a few kids, depending on interest, something with which they can have fun. I have spoken to some parents and some like the idea, while others do not.”

Auditions for “The Red Velvet Cake War” will be held at 10 a.m. on Saturday, June 20, at the Playhouse, located in Brooke Hills Park, five miles east of Wellsburg, off W.Va. 27. Rehearsals will begin July 13, with performances scheduled for 8 p.m. Aug. 21-22 and Aug. 28-29 and 2 p.m. Aug. 23 and Aug. 30.

Social distancing will be observed at auditions, with small groups reading selections from the play. Anyone interested in auditioning for the show should contact the director, Diana Mendel of Wellsburg, by e-mail at dmendel471@aol.com, or call the Playhouse at 304-737-3344, in order to secure an audition spot. Actors unable to audition at the scheduled time may make other arrangements.

Patrons may order their 49th season passes in advance. For details, visit brookehillspark.com.

The Playhouse’s “Save the Barn 2” campaign has been launched on FaceBook. All money raised will be used to pay utility bills and to maintain the pre-Civil War apple barn that has been the Playhouse’s home since 1972. Barnhart reported that a challenge has been issued to anyone involved with the Playhouse from 1972 to the present.

“We are asking anyone who has had any involvement in the Playhouse in any capacity in the past or present to donate at least five dollars to the ‘Save the Barn 2’ campaign,” Barnhart explained. “Please tell us the productions in which you were involved and in which years, so all of us can get together for our fiftieth anniversary to celebrate all the talented people who’ve made the Brooke Hills Playhouse the wonderful place that it is.”

Contributions in any amount to “Save the Barn 2” may be sent to P.O. Box 186, Wellsburg, WV 26070, writing “Save the Barn” on the memo line of a check or money order. Checks should be made out to the Brooke County Arts Council or BCAC.

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