NEW LONDON — A new lineup of local talent will take the stage at 7 p.m. Friday at the New London Little Theatre for an Open Mic performance that will be aired live on the theater’s website and Facebook page.
A blend of experienced performers — like the trio group “Pit of Fashion” and solo artists Jeff Vetch and Dave Eliason — are slated to perform, as well as a group of New London-Spicer High School students who’ve formed a new band that will take the stage for the first time.
The intimate setting of the Little Theatre and the fact that there is no live audience — yet — makes it comfortable for new performers to stretch their wings, said Bethany Lacktorin, artist director and president of the board of directors for the Little Theatre.
Because COVID has restricted live performances, the Little Theatre is hosting virtual events from the stage with Open Mic shows scheduled for the second Friday of each month for the next several months.
“It wasn’t difficult at all,” said Lacktorin, when asked how hard it was to get a half-dozen performers to sign up for the hour-long shows. “There’s an abundance of talent in the community,” she said.
The first Open Mic was in February, which also featured a blend of seasoned musicians, like Bob and Jeanne Whitney, and new performers that included Madisen Radabaugh, an NLS student who sang and played guitar.
So far the February show has nearly 2,000 online views.
“It was great. We definitely got a lot of people looking,” said Kyle Novak, a member of the Little Theatre board of directors.
“Because of COVID, people are hungry to perform and audiences are eager to hear some fresh music, said Lacktorin. “I had no idea there were so many people who just have played a lot in their homes and are deciding to get out,” she said. “This is a perfect way to do it.”
The shows aren’t limited to musical performers. Lacktorin said the open mic format welcomes a variety of performances, like reading original stories, poems or comedy. “It’s wide open,” she said.
People who are interested in performing can contact Lacktorin through the website or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
A “Going Virtual” grant from the Southwest Minnesota Arts Council allowed the Little Theatre to purchase additional camera equipment that enhanced the February broadcast performance, which is still available for viewing.
The volunteers operating the new gear are learning the ropes of mixing live camera angles to help create an improved experience for online viewers, said Novak.
Online donations made during the live-streaming event and subsequent viewings of the video will help keep the theater functioning during COVID, said Lacktorin.
“I’m looking forward to the day when I can have everyone back at the theater, all at once,” said Lacktorin, who has plans to bring a variety of unique performances to the stage throughout the year.
The virtual Open Mic show is the “first step to normalcy” and to being open to the public, she said.