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Freeman Stage offers seating by pod for socially distanced concerts

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Freeman Stage reconfigures audience into pods
Freeman Stage showed off its seating pods as tickets for July shows went on sale. Photo by Freeman Stage

The Freeman Stage is returning to live performances with seating pods designed to seat up to four adults and two children.

Tickets went on sale Thursday for performances through July 18 at the outdoor stage, 4 miles west of Selbyville.

White circles on the grass define the pods, which will hold four chairs supplied by the Freeman.

Tickets are sold per pod, and buyers are limited to buying one pod per event. Some performances are free, and others run $60 to $100 per pod. Family pods can accommodate four adults and two children, 12 and under, who may sit on the ground.

Delaware Theatre Company moves outside

The Delaware Theatre Company also is spreading out seats outside. On Wednesday it is starting a series of free events, with performers on the front steps of its Wilmington Riverfront building and the audience of 134 in 32 two-person spots and 17 four-person spots socially distanced on its parking lot. The first show is sold out, and the rest – hopefully every two weeks, as long as the weather is nice – have not yet been finalized.

“We feel we have a duty to the community and to our patrons to offer entertainment,” said Matt Silva, the organization’s managing director.

The first show in DTC’s Front and Center series will feature vocalist Jonathan Mousset, who has played Frankie Valli in “Jersey Boys” throughout the country.

Jonathan Mousset

The return of live outdoor performances at the Freeman contrasts with Delaware Shakespeare and the Arden Shakespeare Gild, which have put off their outdoor performances this year. The Wilmington Drama League is moving its Jeff Walker Youth One-Act Festival from inside its theater to outdoors.

The Freeman is limiting sales to a little less than 400, according to spokeswoman Alyson Cunningham. That’s less than what Delaware’s state of emergency now allows and far less than its 2,700 capacity.

“We’ll be evaluating patron reaction and ticket sales,” plus the latest in regulations, she said.

 

Public health concerns have added rules at the Freeman. All purchases must be by credit or debit cards. Patrons must arrive with their whole party, and re-entry is not permitted. Masks or cloth face coverings are required upon entry, exit and when moving outside the pods.

Reaction on Facebook to the news that the Freeman was starting back up was overwhelmingly positive.

“I’m continually impressed by the forward thinking of businesses who are pushing for innovative ways to survive this time,” Kasey O]Brien wrote. “Great ideas!!”

 

There were a few contrarian views. One thread complained selling tickets by pods increases the costs for individuals or couples, who would be required to buy a whole pod. Another thread complained about the chairs; the Freeman’s response: “We went with this option to limit the amount of contact between patrons and staff upon entry.”

Tickets are now on sale for Technicolor Motor Home, a Steely Dan tribute, $80-$100 on July 10; Cascading Carlos, free on July 11; the Lauren Glick Band, $60-$80 on July 11; Red Sky Dawn, $60-$80 on July 16, Jesse Garron, an Elvis tribute, $80-$100 on July 17; and Silly Joe, free on July 18.

The Freeman plans to release tickets in two-week batches, Cunningham said, meaning sales for the next set should begin around July 16.

Elsewhere

— The Arden Shakespeare Gild canceled its June production “As You Like It.”

–DelShakes postponed “The Tempest” until 2021. Physical distancing at Rockwood Park would be a financially unrealistic 30 percent of capacity, explained David Stradley, its producing artistic director. “Delaware Shakespeare is developing creative ways to celebrate and uphold the traditions its audiences love about the Summer Festival, including picnicking, family nights, fun fact signs and the beloved annual T-shirt design,” he wrote on DelShakes.org. “In addition, Delaware Shakespeare is developing contingency plans for a smaller-scale event that could be offered at Rockwood Park if public health conditions allow.”

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