MASC performing drive-in play

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Pictured, back row, from left, are the cast and crew of Monroe County Actors Stage Company’s production of “Merely Players,” Hannah Sochowski, Ethan Elllis and Reagan Posey; middle row: Stacey Tunnicliff, Jim Bradley, Joey Franks II and Seth Acock; front row: Matt Dossett and Amber Dillard. 

Entertainment options have been severely limited by the novel coronavirus pandemic, but a Monroe County favorite is returning in a new form the next two weekends. 

Monroe County Actors Stage Company is performing a play entitled “Merely Players” this and next Friday and Saturday at the Gibault Catholic High School parking lot using a drive-in format. 

This is the group’s first show this year. 

“We knew from the beginning that this was going to be some sort of virtual, hybrid or both show,” said director Matt Dossett. “It evolved into the drive-in theater, which I think is more fun.” 

The performances are free, but MASC will be accepting donations. 

Dossett said the organization hopes to make some money from this show because it has not been able to in 2020, instead turning to a couple other fundraisers to make ends meet. 

“It’s to the point now that we need to make money,” he said. “We’re losing money rather than retaining at this point. We’re hoping to recoup some of our losses.” 

Written by Dossett’s uncle, a Belleville native, “Merely Players” is conducive to providing a safe option for patrons and MASC members during the pandemic.

Dossett noted the set is mainly just three folding chairs and only three people are ever on stage simultaneously. The whole cast is five individuals. 

“We’re working on a smaller scale all around,” he explained. “The figurative nature of the show helps with the ease of doing it now, especially.” 

The play tells the story of two men who go to a local theater to watch a show, but soon realize they have gotten more than they bargained for. Other people and surprises pop up throughout the narrative. 

The cast and crew has also done its best to remain safe while rehearsing, working outside at Dossett’s house or at Hopskeller Brewing Company in downtown Waterloo while maintaining social distancing like they will during the performances. 

Knowing the show will be outdoors, Dossett specifically wanted to take his cast to a populated area so they could practice performing in a space like that. 

“That’s why we started going to Hopskeller — so they would have to project over cars going by, people talking, dogs barking, things like that,” Dossett said. “We also learned they would have to be a little bigger than they are supposed to be with this show. It’s supposed to be minute hand movements and gestures, and we’ve had to turn it into Broadway theater style where everything is huge.” 

With sound played over the audience members’ radios and a plan to have a large projection screen, Dossett said people should not have trouble enjoying the show. 

But he acknowledged there may be some hiccups, noting preparations for the show have had their share of stops and starts – including going through three full casts. 

Dossett remained confident, however, that this show is one audiences will enjoy. 

“It starts off funny, there are moments of suspense, there are moments when you are angry and there are moments where you are tearing up,” he said. “It’s the story of two men realizing something that all of us could really learn from, and that’s what makes it fun.” 

Showtime starts at 7:55 p.m. Oct. 16-17 and 23-24. Call 939-7469 to reserve a spot. 

For more information or to make a donation ahead of time, visit masctheatre.org. 

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