OGDEN — Arts don’t have to come to a standstill just because of COVID-19.
The annual Ogden Musical Theatre summer production, which was to be “Into the Woods” this year, has been put on hold due to the pandemic, like many other artistic and cultural endeavors. But determined to put on some sort of artistic production, the theatrical company is presenting a concert featuring the music of U.S. composers Stephen Schwartz, Stephen Flaherty and Stephen Sondheim.
The Stephen Cubed concert will be presented Friday and Saturday starting at 7 p.m. at Peery’s Egyptian Theater in Ogden, with social distancing, limited seating and a mask mandate for those attending.
“In the past, theater has been there to help us learn, grow, accept, love and move forward with positivity. It’s no different today — except we are faced with a whole new set of challenges,” said Maurie Tarbox, the Ogden Musical Theater artistic director.
In pulling the production together, the actors and producers adhered to safety measures to guard against COVID-19’s spread. “Each rehearsal started with temperature readings, mask wearing (which is incredibly difficult for talking let alone singing) … moving on to wearing plastic shields so we could hear each other better,” Tarbox said in an emailed statement.
Likewise, Kassi Bybee, general manager of Peery’s Egyptian Theater, emphasized that federal, state and county safety protocols were followed in preparing the production so “we can physically distance and be together safely.”
Tickets are $10, but the performances will also be live streamed via the Ogden Musical Theater website, ogdenmusicaltheatre.org, for those who prefer to watch from home. Sondheim, Schwartz and Flaherty have composed numerous musicals between them, including “Wicked,” “Anastasia,” “Into the Woods,” “Sweeney Todd” and more. Their songs will be performed by five male and five female actors.
“It will touch your heart. It will touch your soul,” Bybee said.
In preparing Stephen Cubed, the health of performers and patrons given the COVID-19 pandemic was the key concern. “At times I wondered if it was all worth it,” Tarbox said, alluding to the resulting challenges to assure a safe environment.
But those taking part never complained.
“Each rehearsal brought me such joy! I realized I missed the energy of a live performance,” Tarbox said. She hopes things go back to normal next year, “but until then theater will continue to teach us. We will learn and we will grow…and we will give!”