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Rockford Theater Is Celebrating The Return Of Its Live Performances

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The podcasts that started last year will continue along with the live shows.

A Rockford theater is bouncing back from the pandemic by once again allowing indoor performances, starting next month. A reopening celebration is taking place this month.

Richard Raether is the producing artistic director at Artists’ Ensemble Theater. He said it took some time to reopen because the venue wanted to ensure all things were done based on the COVID-19 protocols for the actors’ union.

“This is what all of the Broadway theaters, as they open, this is the same steps that they're going through. The League of Chicago Theatres, the Goodman, Steppenwolf, all of those theaters, the Milwaukee Rep are all doing the same thing. So, this is become an industry standard. This is how we can open.”

Raether said one requirement is that the entire theater company is fully vaccinated, and they must show proof of that.

He said the free reopening event is taking place at the Starlight Theater.

“We're going to be doing two short radio style plays,” Raether said. “And, in fact, one of them is one of the pieces that we did for Mysterious Journey, for our podcast, ‘Who Killed Bobby Teal?’ is a Dashiell Hammett adaptation. And, and the other one is a P.G. Wodehouse adaptation.”

Last year the playhouse kept audiences engaged with their Mysterious Journey Podcast. Raether said these audio stories will continue although live theater is coming back.

“What we'll probably do is we'll probably cut back, just because as we get up -- doing both -- then you're suddenly have two jobs that you’re doing,” he explained.

Raether said the podcast has been downloaded in every continent except Antarctica.

The free reopening celebration "Rebound" takes place 7:30 p.m. Sept. 25.

Jeeves Saves the Day will be the first live play since the closure. Performances start Oct. 7 and continue through the 17.