SUBSCRIBE NOW
99¢ for the first month
SUBSCRIBE NOW
99¢ for the first month

Mattie Kelly Arts Center at NWFSC to revive live, socially distanced entertainment

Savannah Evanoff
Washington County News

NICEVILLE – The Mattie Kelly Arts Center is back with live performances.

After a long and uncertain time period, artistic director Jeanette Shires wants to make the community aware that the venue at Northwest Florida State College in Niceville housing theater performances, concerts, speakers and other entertainment will offer a 2020-21 season – but with changes.

Mattie Kelly Fine & Performing Arts Center courtyard at Northwest Florida State College.

“We’re taking all kinds of precautions because of COVID,” Shires said. “Everyone that enters the college has to go through a check-in where they’re asked questions and they have to show their ID and get a temperature check. Everyone who comes in the building must be wearing a mask, and if they don’t have a mask, one will be provided for them. We’ve taken precautions to put plexiglass up at our concession stands. We’ll have hand sanitizer stations set up.”

More:Tibetan monks create work of spiritual art from sand (PHOTOS)

The Center will also employ extra security, ushers and custodians to smooth the process, she said.

The Mattie Kelly Arts Center will host the outdoor performance, "An Evening with Lee Greenwood," at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 4  at the Amphitheater.

The first performance Sept. 4 is “An Evening with Lee Greenwood,” an outdoor concert with the iconic country musician. The President’s Speaker Series will return Sept. 15 with “Sarah Thomas: Breaking Through: My Journey to Becoming the First Female NFL Official.” Tickets for the latter are free with limited seating.

More:Bobcat among wildlife spotted roaming the NWFSC campus

Other scheduled performances are “Menopause the Musical,” “Almost Elton: Remember When Rock Was Young,” “Lords of 52nd Street,” a performance by humorist Jeanne Robertson, speaker Deborah Norville and “That Golden Girls Show: A Puppet Parody.”

Season information and tickets are available at MattieKellyArtsCenter.org.

The theater itself will also feature COVID-19 preventative changes, Shires said.

“We’re not seating every row; we’re seating every other row,” Shires said. “And there will be open seats between each party of two or party of four – however big the party is that’s coming.”

The performers will also embrace social distancing.

The President's Speaker Series will return to Northwest Florida State College with "Sarah Thomas: Breaking Through: My Journey to Becoming the First Female NFL Official" at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 15 at the Mattie Kelly Arts Center in Niceville.

When the Center’s staff members returned in June, they set up a mock placement for the musicians of the Northwest Florida Symphony Orchestra. The Orchestra will return with a full season – featuring its annual Holiday Pops concert with accompaniment from Northwest Florida State College president Devin Stephenson.

“We put six feet between each of the musicians,” Shires said. “We won’t be using our orchestra shell this year, but we’ll make very good use of every square inch of the stage. We’ve joked that some are in a different zip code because they’re so far in the corners of the stage so we could socially distance these musicians. The ones that can wear masks will wear masks. The ones that can’t will have plexiglass between them.”

They have gone to great lengths, but it’s because they’re excited, Shires said. While plans are subject to change; Shires hopes to carry them out.

“We’re excited about our season,” Shires said. “We’re excited about continuing. People are hungry and thirsty for some good music, and we aim to please.”