© 2023 WVIK
Listen at 90.3 FM and 98.3 FM in the Quad Cities, 95.9 FM in Dubuque, or on the WVIK app!
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

COVID & the Arts: Miss. Bend Players Cancel Season

Mississippi Bend Players

The Covid-19 pandemic has claimed another theatrical victim.

As theaters locally and nationwide are canceling spring and summer shows, the
Augustana College-based Mississippi Bend Players has decided to cancel its 2020 season.
Jackie McCall is in her first year as MBP producing artistic director, and this was to be
the fourth for the professional summer-stock company. It planned to start rehearsals for Neil Simon’s "Broadway Bound" on June 7, with performances June 19-28 at Brunner Theatre Center.

"When we just looked at ahead at what could happen, we thought it was a safer choice because we have actors coming from out of town; we had students, interns coming from all over. Especially, when we looked at the housing situation for the interns, social distancing really would not have been something we could have kept up on, because they're housed together. That was a major concern, and if we couldn't include students in our season -- a huge part of our mission is to give them that educational experience."

McCall said lack of grant funding, and safety concerns for cast, crew, and patrons, all influenced the decision. The paid staff was to include about a dozen high-school and college-age interns, with three full productions.

The season would have featured a Sarah Ruhl play – written for her mother to perform the lead – and the musical spoof, “Ruthless.”

The Clinton Area Showboat Theatre announced at the end of March that its 2020 summer season would be canceled because of the coronavirus crisis. McCall said that’s affecting lots of venues – such as the spring cancellation of Augustana’s “American Idiot,” QC Theatre Workshop’s “Prelude to a Kiss,” Music Guild’s “Secret Garden” and Spotlight Theatre’s “Oliver.”

"There are so many theaters around the country, because of course I have a lot of friends working in the profession, and it seemed like every day on Facebook, I would see another large professional theater canceling their season."

Everyone she’s contacted about it has understood her cancellation decision. 

"Everyone's been so nice about it. It made a really horrible job a little bit easier, because everyone's been so understanding." 

The Mississippi Bend Players hope to reschedule the same shows for 2021, and are planning some smaller-scale entertainment later this year, ideally in August.

Formerly the arts and entertainment reporter for The Dispatch/Rock Island Argus and Quad-City Times, Jonathan Turner now writes freelance for WVIK and QuadCities.com. He has experience writing for daily newspapers for 32 years and has expertise across a wide range of subject areas, including government, politics, education, the arts, economic development, historic preservation, business, and tourism. He loves writing about music and the arts, as well as a multitude of other topics including features on interesting people, places, and organizations. He has a passion for accompanying musicals, singers, choirs, and instrumentalists. He even wrote his own musical based on The Book of Job, which premiered at Playcrafters in 2010. He wrote a 175-page history book about downtown Davenport, which was published by The History Press in 2016. Turner was honored in 2009 to be among 24 arts journalists nationwide to take part in a 10-day fellowship offered by the National Endowment for the Arts in New York City on classical music and opera, based at Columbia University’s journalism school.