The holiday-themed production held earlier this month was the first live performance with a full audience at the Jewel Box Theatre since before the pandemic began in March of 2020. Castmembers from left to right: Al Gunby, Kathy Currie, Mike Currie (back), Gary Vance, and John Ackenhusen. Courtesy photo

Jewel Box Theatre back in action after long layoff

Proof of vaccination required for entry; patrons must wear masks

After being forced to transition to online performances during COVID-19, the Jewel Box Theatre in Poulsbo is back in action after holding its first live performance with a full audience this month.

The first performance Dec. 12 was a holiday production called “Grand Central Station’s 1930 Christmas drama,” an old-time radio broadcast, theatre president Cindy Garfein said.

The key caveat for bringing performances back with full capacity was the requirement to show proof of COVID vaccination. Garfein said they initially tried to bring performances back in September but the delta variant was rampant. Patrons must also wear masks in the theatre, regardless of vaccination status.

“Everybody loves being in the theatre,” she said. “We got a lot of positive comments from patrons saying thanks for checking vaccine status. Of course, there are some people who think that we shouldn’t be doing that but very few.”

Full capacity is 93 seats, and Garfein said they will be filling them all up for their shows. People are seated as soon as they arrive. Wine is served, but not food.

The 2021-22 season will be a bit shorter than usual, running through May, as Garfein said the theatre is trying to get comfortable with the routine. She said sets are less complicated, requiring fewer volunteers.

The next show is Jan. 15 at 7:30 p.m. when Bainbridge Island comedy group Imagined Reality Improv will perform. On the weekends of Jan. 22-23 and Jan. 29-30 the performance will be “Short & Sweet: An Evening of 10-Minute Plays.” The Saturday showings will be at 7: 30 p.m. and the Sunday showings at 2 p.m. Check jewelboxpoulsbo.org for other performances this season.

Amid the pandemic, the theatre implemented Zoom performances; Garfein said between 30 and 50 people would watch each one on average.

“We got better as time went on,” she said. “When we first started we were a little bit raw. At the end, they were really quite creative. The artistic team really loved having a chance to perform, even though there was no live audience.”

When the theatre announces an upcoming performance, they hold auditions to select the casts. Garfein said they don’t buy acts to come in and perform, rather it’s all volunteers. She said they will soon be auditioning for “Educating Rita,” which will be held two weekends in February.

“The people who volunteer at the Jewel Box consider it their community, their family. We have penetration all over Kitsap County,” Garfein said, adding they also have folks who come from other areas.

The Jewel Box Theatre has been in Poulsbo for 22 years.

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