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Last November, 4Community Theatre partnered with Orono Community Education to bring Aladdin Jr. to the stage. The cast of showcased their talent on stage during their rehearsal. (Kayla Culver/Laker Pioneer)

A busy season is ahead for 4Community Theatre (4CT) as they continue to plan for this fall and next year after canceling their production of “Anne of Green Gable’s” due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Joe Happe, 4CT president, said they held out for as long as they could without canceling, but did not want to risk spreading COVID-19 to the cast or audience members. Theater leadership is currently working on a two-to-three year plan, but are planning to kick off the 2020-2021 season in October with “Little Shop of Horrors.”

The play is currently expected to run in Rockford towards the end of October to celebrate the Halloween season; however, as guidelines and information about the pandemic changes, this season’s schedule could change.

Currently, auditions are expected to take place in September.

“It’s 4CT, so it’s four communities...It’s going to be a two-weekend deal right around Halloween. [It’s] a smaller cast [with a] limited set,” he said.

According to Happe, “Little Shop of Horrors” is a production the community theatre has not attempted before, but thought it would be fun to branch out a little. It was added to the season because it has a smaller cast but still lets those people itching to get back on stage an opportunity to.

Agatha Christie’s “Love from a Stranger,” is scheduled for this winter, once again. A Christmas show was added this year, as well. The opera “Amahl and the Night Visitors” is scheduled for December 2020.

“There is mostly singing in the [Christmas] show. It’s about the three wise men and we’re going to try to bring it to the local churches...And we’re also going to try to bring it to some of the senior homes,” he said.

Next summer’s show is “Seussical.’’

4CT is also partnering with Orono Community Education to bring “Alice in Wonderland Jr.” to the stage in November 2020 and “The Little Mermaid Jr.” the spring of 2021.

“Last year we did ‘Aladdin Jr.’ and it was fabulous. We probably had 60 kids in that show. It was a really fun time,” Happe said.

With three musicals, two junior shows and one play, 4CT will be busy throughout the next year and are hoping to be able to get audience members back as soon as they’re able. Ticket sales are a large part of 4CT’s budget and additional funding comes from grants for performing their different shows. Happe said the community theatre isn’t there to make money and they are more concerned about how to get people back on the stage while respecting COVID-19 guidelines.

“Depending on what it looks like in the fall, we might have to get creative like some of these restaurants are doing and have our audience come in and sit in every third seat and only be able to have 50 people in an audience at a time,” he said. “It’s so dependent on where we’re at come fall.”

Happe acknowledges all future productions are subject to change depending on COVID-19 and what is safe for everyone involved. Updates can be found at 4communitytheatre.org.

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