The show must go on: How B Street Theatre is weathering the pandemic

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — Sacramento’s prolific arts community is finding creative ways to keep audiences entertained during the pandemic, but artists and performers are understandably anxious to resume live, face-to-face entertainment.

The nonprofit B Street Theatre’s production of “Byhalia, Mississippi” had to shut down halfway through its six-week run last year, in the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“So we’re definitely part of the fabric of the community of Sacramento, and that connection with our patrons is very strong, and we knew going dark for however long, we just couldn’t sever that,” Dave Pierini, artistic producer at the B Street, told FOX40.

So when the stage lights had to go dark, the theatre and its company of actors began creating online entertainment.

“It was a real quick pivot, and it was one that in a lot of ways just came very naturally to us. It’s just in our nature to want to tell stories, and want to entertain, and also connect with that audience, keep that connection strong,” Pierini said.

Pierini spoke with FOX40 on an evening he was hosting a virtual variety show along with other actors from their respective homes.

It’s fun, but their goal is to get back on stage. For the professional actors of B Street Theatre, performing was a full-time job before the pandemic.

“Some of them have had to go find ‘job-jobs,’ you know? It’s wild. Two of our incredibly talented actresses are working at a dental office,” Pierini said. “Most of them are just doing what every actor in the country is doing, which is getting by however we can. There are still voiceovers, there’s still commercial work that can be gotten.”

Pierini says the theatre itself is getting by thanks to its generous patrons. He has also been in touch with many other members of Sacramento’s burgeoning arts and entertainment scene.

“And it looks like we’re all going to be OK. Again, because of the community, because the community took care of us, whether it was on a government level or just a patron level, everybody got it that the arts were going to get hit hard, so we’ve got to protect the arts,” Pierini said. “So I’m confident that everybody comes back.”

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