ELGIN — The game soon will be afoot at the Elgin Opera House.
The performance center at 104 N. Eighth St., Elgin, has figured out how to put on a live stage performance while following all state and local coronavirus safety guidelines.
The stage adaptation of “Sherlock Holmes: A Scandal in Bohemia” will be the first socially distanced performance at the theater since it closed in March. The show opens Friday, Oct. 30, at 7:30 p.m., and will run for two weekends.
Grant Turner is portraying the titular character. He also adapted the piece and directed it. In deciding what show would reopen the Opera House, Turner said he felt comfortable putting on this particular play in any format, including filming and livestreaming. He said he is happy it will be in front of a live audience.
“We have been starting and stopping this project for a while, looking at different options for shows and ways to put them on safely,” Turner said. “A few months ago we settled on this show and have been rehearsing sporadically since.”
Turner said the biggest hurdle in the production is having to rethink all of the show’s elements — including costumes, staging and the script — in a way that maintains social distancing and safety for the cast, crew and the audience. On stage, the actors will remain 6 feet apart at all times, each in a designated section of the stage, and will read their lines out to the audience. Turner is using projections and sound effects to help tell the story.
“When figuring out the particulars for the show, I realized the best way would be to do it without having the actors move,” Turner said. “Doing so unlocked more things we could do visually and with sound effects.”
To keep audience members at least 6 feet apart, the theater is blocking off certain seats and capping the total at 50 people per night.
Cassandra Johnson, who portrays Irene Adler in the show, said this has been a very “go with the flow” experience, something Turner is known for.
“But it has still been a fun production,” Johnson said. “This will be my first time performing in the Opera House space, and my first time performing in front of a live audience since March. I am a little excited and a little bit nervous.”
In addition to Turner and Johnson, the play features Michael Cooper as Dr. Watson, Liberty O’Dell as the King of Bohemia and Sam Miller as multiple characters.
Turner noted that both actors and audiences benefit from live performances.
“There is a hunger for theater that needs to be filled,” Turner said, “but we don’t want to just give people anything to fill that hunger. We want to give them something good.”