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BEACON Senior News

The show will go on with Magic Circle Players

Apr 26, 2021 03:18PM ● By Kathy Applebee
Group of 14 ladies in costume pose while performing in "Oklahoma!" for Magic Circle Players

Magic Circle Players perform in “Oklahoma!”

Magic Circle Players adapts performances to pandemic times

It starts with an empty, dusty stage. Someone begins sweeping. Another puts out a few chairs explaining, “this is a door” and “that’s a window.” The director confers with volunteers about sets and costumes, sending someone to round up props. Finally, the audience arrives and the Magic Circle Players (MCP) come to life on stage.

Throughout the year, the Montrose-based theatre troupe usually produce five plays, plus specials on Christmas and Valentine’s Day. MCP holds a youth theater drama camp in the summer, as well as a director training workshop that culminates in an evening of one-act plays directed by participants.

“This team art form is a magical process, satisfying, an act of love and fun,” said octogenarian playwright Nancy Ballantyne.

In a non-COVID season, several hundred volunteers are involved, some with little or no experience. MCP provides training for those wanting to learn new skills, as well as opportunities like ushering or running the box office.

“We train anybody on anything they want,” explained Kim Santich, 69. “In 2018, I decided to audition for ‘Barnaby.’ I was cast, and found the MCP players to be welcoming.”

The pandemic has adversely affected the entertainment industry, MCP included. Fortunately, the company is used to overcoming obstacles—like when the curtain fell during “Beauty and the Beast,” or another instance when an actor got sick just before the show and a stagehand came on stage, script in hand, to do the lines. One time, the stage lights failed during the second act.

“We lined up cars outside and used their headlights to light up the stage,” recalled MCP board president Merrilee Robertson, 78. 


For its 60th season, MCP adapted to pandemic restrictions by scheduling virtual rehearsals and casting couples, family groups and folks who were already doing life together. They were able to bring “My Funny Valentine” to the stage in February and produced “You Can’t Be Too Careful” in October with actors seated with social distancing.

“In no way will COVID kill us,” said Santich. “It may slow us down, but the shows will go on.” 

Santich directed the virtual March show, “Tune in Tomorrow,” a theatre radio show presented live via Zoom. The 95-minute production featured four radio show scripts punctuated by commercials for products from the radio era of entertainment like Carter’s Little Liver Pills. 

“Theater is a place to express yourself, engage, make friends and keep from going bonkers,” said Santich. “Despite the pressures of learning lines and opening night, it’s the best stress reliever.”

Theater Manager Lisa Rediger, 53, agreed. “[Theater] helps navigate the pandemic with some sense of normalcy.”

Although the 2020-2021 season is subject to change, Disney’s musical “Newsies” is scheduled for May 7-29, 2021, followed by “Mash” opening Fourth of July weekend.

MCP's 61st season opens in September. For show information or to volunteer, call 249-7838 or visit