This Texas Theater Company Turned Its Parking Lot Into a Drive-in — and Now It's Streaming Performances Online

The show must go on, right?

outdoor performers on stage at Plaza Theatre
Photo: Hannah Midkiff Photography

A closed theater in Texas turned its parking lot into a drive-in for live some outdoor performances before it was ordered to start live streaming shows amid coronavirus quarantine restrictions.

To respect social distancing as COVID-19 continues to spread, the Plaza Theatre Company in Cleburne, TX — about 50 miles southwest of Dallas — moved their stage out to the parking lot and performed a free, one-hour show to a packed audience of cars.

cars parked outside of Plaza Theatre
Hannah Midkiff Photography

“Obviously, it was time for us to try and figure out some alternatives," JaceSon Barrus, the theater’s artistic director, told CNN. "We wanted to figure out a way to continue to keep our staff paid and remain viable in the public eye."

In order to do such performances, which were broadcast through the radio, the network noted that the theater OK’d the unconventional setup with local authorities. The shows drew about about 100 cars to each performance.

performers on stage at Plaza Theatre Company
Hannah Midkiff Photography

“I was like, 'Are people actually going to want to come to a drive-up theater and sit in their car and listen on the radio?' And cars were parked down the block almost an hour before showtime just waiting to come in," performer Caitlan Leblo told CNN.

But on Friday, the theater said the city’s mayor and a Johnson County judge put an end the retro-style show, adding they will instead move their performances online with “several live streaming events.”

Since the show must go on, theater fans can catch these on the Plaza Theatre Company’s YouTube and Facebook pages.

"We've been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support,” Barrus told CNN. “We're all heartsick and struggling with the challenges we're all facing right now and to see people pulling for each other and caring about each other has been… gratifying."

As of Sunday, Texas recorded more than 2,500 confirmed cases of coronavirus, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services.

Many theaters have had to close amid the coronavirus pandemic, transitioning their plays and musicals online. In London, the Globe Theatre is streaming pre-recorded tapings of some of Shakespeare’s most famous plays, including "Twelfth Night" and “Merchant of Venice,” and the app BroadwayHD is streaming performances of “Cats” and “The King and I.”

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