McNeese theatre program prepares for first performance since pandemic

Updated: Apr. 9, 2021 at 6:14 AM CDT
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LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - Students of the McNeese Theatre program are preparing for center stage with not one, but two upcoming performances. The music and play are the first theater productions in Lake Charles since the start of the pandemic.

Students were only a week and a half away from production when the first pandemic shutdown happened, then Hurricane Laura hit our area, halting production for the rest of the year. With just a week away from the debut of “The Laramie Project” and “The Last Five Years’, students are busy preparing.

“It is just one show one night, another show the next, first show the second night, and five days with three performances each,” said Associate Professor and Director, Charles McNeely. Creativity was his only option when hands-on theater classes went virtual. “It has been a long journey, but the students have been so resilient,” said McNeely.

“They are keeping me going and all the faculty in the performing arts department,” said McNeely.

Production member, Aubrey Mercer, says that socially distanced theater practice poses its own challenges.

“We haven’t been able to meet in person, and a lot of the stuff that we need to be doing, like building the set,” said Mercer. “For the actors, it’s acting and practicing together, and we haven’t been able to do that.”

The goal is to stage a performance in a way that is safe for both the actors and the audience. “Wherever we can and however we can, we are just adapting with what we are being given,” said McNeely.

The final product will have well been worth the crew’s hard work. “We are just so excited to bring it to the community, so it is worth it and we get to rest afterward,” said McNeely.

This year, shows will be hosed at the Historic Cash and Carry with admission free to the public.

“The Laramie Project” debuts on Thursday, April 15, at 7:30 p.m., Saturday, April 17, at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

The musical, “The Last Five Years,” on Wednesday, April 14, and Friday, April 16, at 7:30 p.m., and on Sunday, April 18, at 2 p.m.

For more information, call 337-475-5040 or go online at

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