Encore to debut drive-through theater this weekend

Encore Theatrical Company will have a different flair this summer.

This weekend, the theater group will have a “drive-through” theater and then a few weeks after will be performing in a new, smaller venue in downtown Morristown.

Mike Howard, managing director for Encore, said the plans have been in works for months to be able to do some kind of performances after COVID-19 spread throughout the state and the United States and left many entertainment venues looking at how to address social distancing guidelines.

“Hopefully, we’ve made this safe enough that people can get out,” Howard said.

First, the Encore Drive-In Theatre will take place at Litz Farms in Morristown this Friday and Saturday.

The drive-in will be a combination of a drive-through, a live theater production and a retro drive-in movie theater.

Howard said it will be an unprecedented show with nine different stations. Three to four cars will be let into the farm at one point and they will stop at each station to take place in a live musical performance that will include a five to nine-minute skit by actors.

The cars will then move from station to station watching each skit.

Howard said the Litz family offered the farm a few months ago. As he and other directors and performers toured the farm, he said an idea came to them.

“The idea popped into our heads, why don’t we do an outdoor thing?” he said.

The creative minds came together and came up with the idea of the drive-in theatre, which will highlight some of the best musical performance the company has done for the past 14 years.

Howard said they feel it’s important for their performers to be able to get out and do what they love to do after being quarantined and unable to perform.

“We’re giving our artists a way to perform and get back at it again,” he said.

The theatre also found itself a new venue a month ago. Howard said the company has started renting a location at the corner of Main and Henry streets in downtown Morristown, just below the company’s main office.

He said the landlord of the building informed them a church that had been there would be moving out.

The theatre company jumped at the chance.

“It was a big enough space and there was a stage in it already,” he said.

So, the ETC Main Street Theatre will open on July 10 with three weekend performances of “Love, Loss and What I Wore.”

Because of social distancing guidelines, the company is only allowing 20 patrons in at a time.

Howard described the venue as small and intimate, but with the ability to social distance.

“We can do shows, cabarets and coffeehouses,” Howard said.

He said the theatre plans to use that space for the time being until they believe it’s safe to start using larger venues like Walters State Community College or the Rose Center.

“It’s a place where our patrons can feel safe,” he said.