ABINGDON, Va. — Barter will soon be back in business on Main Street in Abingdon.
Come September, the venerable Barter Theatre will move back to its main stage on Main Street in Abingdon after being shuttered since the end of 2019 due to coronavirus concerns.
It’s opening its doors for the fall production of “Frankenstein,” which runs Sept. 30 through Halloween night, Oct. 31.
Barter Theatre was founded in 1933 and is considered “The State Theatre of Virginia,” as well as one of the top tourist attractions in Abingdon and Southwest Virginia.
Over the past year, Barter has produced 11 plays and three concerts at the Moonlite Drive-In Movie Theatre — an outdoor alternative in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
That site has attracted more than 30,000 people, according to Barter Theatre Producing Artistic Director Katy Brown.
Brown considers that a healthy number, but it’s still far below what could have been 145,000 attendees at Barter’s two indoor stages had the coronavirus not interrupted stage life.
Right now, the Barter troupe is still slated to stay at the drive-in, just off Interstate 81’s Exit 13, along Lee Highway.
“We will be at the Moonlite for the fall with ‘Rockin’ At the Moonlite,’ and we will lease it at least through the end of this year,” Brown said.
“Rockin’ at the Moonlite” is a musical revue featuring Barter actors singing the roots of rock through today. That show runs Sept, 24 through Oct. 23.
Back at the main stage next to Abingdon’s Town Hall, Barter Theatre is taking precautions based on both Centers for Disease Control and governmental guidelines, along with recommendations from their Medical Advisory Board, said Brown.
In an audience survey conducted by the theater, 73.9 percent of participants said they feel safe and comfortable enough to attend indoor performances again, Brown said.
“Safety is a top concern,” Brown said. “We’re taking safety very seriously. And we’re excited to be back home in the theater we know and love, serving this community as we always have.”
Patrons can purchase tickets for the homecoming season starting Aug. 10.
Possibly, Brown said, the Barter could return to the Moonlite in 2022.
“That depends on the pandemic,”‘ Brown said. “It’s an incredible place to safely see shows socially distant and still have a ton of fun. And we are one of the lucky theaters in the world that have access to an outdoor space like it.”
Going forward, ticket prices will go back to normal with indoor shows, Brown said.
“Tickets inside the theater will return to what they were before the pandemic,” Brown said. “But tickets start at $20 at the Moonlite and inside the theater. So there’s always inexpensive seats if you buy early.”
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