The Barn Theatre goes virtual

Like so many other businesses across the state and country, The Barn Theatre has gone dark over the past month. But, tonight it is going virtual to share stories, skits, songs and more.

Carl, played by Allen Clark of Willmar, left, and Phil, played by Gabe Ryland of Huron, S.D., decide the ladder to success at the post office is missing a few rungs. The pair have lots of the spirit but little judgement and their new gourmet health food restaurant flounders in "Flaming Idiots" at The Barn Theatre. Rand Middleton / West Central Tribune file photo

WILLMAR — The show must go on.

Or does it?

Tonight should be the opening of the second weekend of “A Year With Frog and Toad” — a musical about friends and family — at The Barn Theatre in downtown Willmar.

But, like so many things, The Barn shut down in mid-March due to the coronavirus pandemic. Instead tonight’s show with The Barn will be a virtual party, beginning at 7 p.m.

Ready. Set. Be creative.

Naomi Lindquist, operations manager and volunteer coordinator at The Barn, along with the rest of the staff, invite everyone to join them on Facebook tonight to share a skit, a song, a monologue, or a video about what The Barn means to you.


Whether an artist or patron, The Barn wants to hear from you.

Videos and messages may be uploaded through Messenger to The Barn Theatre or emailed to .
Dream Academy is assisting with tonight’s virtual party.

Allen Clark, a veteran actor on The Barn stage, shared his thoughts recently on Facebook:
“I need to talk about theatre. I’m missing it right now. It is an outlet to me. ... I have done about 20 shows. Amazing! You guys have heard me talk about my theatre family, and that is truly what they are. When you spend so much of your free time working on a show, you bond. You connect. You go through things together. It is my favorite part of theatre; adding to my family! And I miss them! Due to the current world situation, the Barn has had to ‘Go dark.’ The lights will rise again, and we WILL get back to giving our community amazing quality theatre, right in our backyard. The Barn still needs funds to help us now, and when we are back performing. …”

Likewise, Jan Buzzeo writes, “We’re with you Barn Theatre. Can’t wait until the directors, stage managers, music directors, technical directors, set designers, vocal directors, props and costume people, musicians and actors can once again take the stage. The lights will shine bright again on The Barn stage.”
Over the past 40 years or so, Buzzeo has been involved in many shows, on stage and behind the scenes. “These people in theatre are family and have gotten me through some rough times in my life. When I moved here to Willmar, The Barn Theatre welcomed me with open arms,” she said.

More recently, she has “been blessed with the great fortune of doing shows with two of my grandchildren.”

And there are others.

On April 16, what should have been the opening night of “A Year With Frog and Toad,” the cast gathered via a Zoom meeting to rehearse a few lines and enjoy some music. A short clip is shared on Facebook.

Everything came to a halt.

“Frog and Toad” was just a few weeks into production when everything went dark. First things were put on hold. Lindquist said they had a “really good start on vocals, some choreography and blocking.”


“The set was going to be built that week and stage work was next,” she said. ”Although we were at the beginning stages, so much base work gets done in the first few weeks, so the rest goes together smoothly.”

The weekend the lights went out, Community Christian School in Willmar was using the theater to stage “Anne of Green Gables.” The production was videotaped and livestreamed for parents and grandparents.

Already, Barn auditions for the summer musical “Shrek” have been postponed, and the summer season hangs in limbo, unsure of how things will develop, and when the stage lights will once again shine brightly on community theater in downtown Willmar.

In the meantime, “we wait,” said Lindquist.

“The Barn is discussing options for this summer,” she said. “We would love to hold our planned productions, but we are very aware of the pandemic and the concerns we and others have. We are waiting for guidelines for opening up to allow us to make decisions that work for all of our volunteers and our patrons.

“These decisions are tough and unprecedented. We miss the volunteers, who are a large part of The Barn Theatre,” Lindquist added.
“We miss the patrons, who all have helped make The Barn Theatre a part of the Willmar community and west central Minnesota community.”

“And, we worry,” she said . The bills still need to be paid.

Along with tonight’s virtual party, The Barn will be accepting donations to help keep things going.


“Your donations are needed during this time of uncertainty,” said Lindquist. “We do not know how long this will last and we do not have specific plans as many do.”

Check the website for a donation button or send checks to The Barn Theatre, PO Box 342 Willmar, MN 56201.
“We welcome each and every dollar and thank each of you incredibly.”
In addition, The Barn has some other ideas “percolating to continue to bring entertainment to you.” Check The Barn’s facebook page and website at for more information.

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