Since 1964, The Camille Playhouse has welcomed theater lovers from all over the Rio Grande Valley to see local artists perform several different plays throughout the season.
Last year, due to COVID-19, the Camille had to do what they never thought and closed its doors for the first time for more than a year. But next week, things will change as board members and local artists get ready for their first production post-COVID which will premiere on April 9.
At 30 percent capacity, temperatures will be taken at the entrance, face masks will be required and no intermission for safety reasons, the local theater will welcome residents with a live musical called “Camille Playhouse presents: 56 seasons of song” where local artists will perform non-stop one song after another for one hour and 20 minutes.
“In January we started getting ready for this,” Sylvia Lester, board member, said.
“We started thinking out of the box ‘what are we going to do to try and have a soft opening?’ and so we started looking at our old programs and every time that the theater got into a little bit of financial trouble, and needed some extra money, we would pull out a musical review. So we started thinking, ‘why don’t we do a musical review representing as many musicals as possible that we’ve done in 56 years?’ So, it is a lot of music, and dancing and staging.”
Lester said during the past 13 months that The Camille has been closed to the public, board members had to “step up” and start taking care of the theater. Due to the pause of events brought on by COVID-19 that caused lack of funding, The Camille Playhouse had to let go of all the employees last year.
“The board members had to step up and we started applying for grants and looking for money however we could,” she said. “Not only to stay afloat, but there were so many things that we needed to have redone and fixed. But, since there was always people there we couldn’t really close and take care of that.”
Now, with the vaccine available and cases going down throughout the community, Lester said board members decided it was time to reopen again and let the community enjoy live theater at The Camille, following safety protocols.
Before the show opens for the community, as a way of thanking essential workers, The Camille Playhouse will donate tickets for a special preview on April 8th to doctors, nurses, firefighters, grocery store workers, truck drivers, dentists, veterinarians, journalists, among other essential workers, who did not stop working during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“That first night, we are planning on personally handing out 50 tickets and offer a half-priced ticket if they want to take their significant other. We need to think out of the box. Not just doctors and nurses. We need to think fire department, police department, someone at HEB, because they kept working,” Lester said.
“Dentists and veterinarians, animals get sick too so they kept working. A trucker, they all kept working, when we were at a standstill, they kept going, they didn’t have a choice.”
Tickets are $20 for general admission and may be purchased on the Camille Playhouse Facebook page or from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays at The Camille Playhouse building.
The show will kick off on April 9 for the public and will continue to run for three weekends with the last show taking place on April 25. Dates and times are at 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 2 p.m. on Sundays.
“It has been such a long year for everyone. I know it has, we’ve had emails and phone calls from people asking when are we opening back, we are ready,” she said.
“So, from our house to yours, please come. We are going to be as safe as we possibly can and enjoy yourself. It’s time to take a break and relax a little bit, even if it’s just for one hour and two minutes.”