Posted on: August 31, 2020 Posted by: Glacier Staff Comments: 0

By Natalie Zalewski, Arts & Entertainment Editor

One way or another, the show will go on at Moraine’s Fine & Performing Arts Center.

One of the biggest ways COVID-19 has drastically affected our day-to-day lives is the rescheduling or cancelling of concerts, shows, festivals and more. Despite these setbacks, Tommy Hensel, managing director of Moraine’s FPAC, is actively finding alternatives to maintain audience engagement.

While fans await the return to the stage, they can tune in to the FPAC’s “Meet The Artist” series on Facebook Live. Every Tuesday at 7, Hensel interviews artists who have performed at Moraine within the last few years. The live stream can be found on FPAC’s Facebook page and includes 30 minutes of interview time followed by answers to questions posted by viewers.

The “Meet the Artist” series is available on the FPAC YouTube channel.

“It came about because I just wanted to give us something to keep the performing arts center out there in front of people, but also something interesting that they might not be able to find anywhere else,” Hensel said. “Rather than finding some pre-recorded video and streaming it, I wanted to do something different.”

The series has been ongoing since May 19 and is scheduled to continue through October. All of the artists who will be interviewed from September 8-29, including Charo, Jorge Perez, and Wilfredo Rivera, are connected to Moraine’s celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month.

Aside from “Meet The Artist” series, Hensel has other livestream events in the works.

“I was approached by the United States Air Force Jazz Ensemble,” he said. “All of the armed forces have music ensembles that tour around the country, and it’s basically a way for the armed forces to reach out and serve the country artistically.”

Since the original plan to get the ensemble to perform in person fell through, their performance at the air force base will be streamed sometime in October (TBD).

On Sept. 8, legendary Spanish American actress, singer and comedian Charo is will be a guest on the FPAC’s “Meet the Artist” interview series as part of Hispanic Heritage Month.

Depending on how the fall semester progresses, Hensel is hoping to include an on-campus livestream event towards the end of the year.

“Right now, we don’t have the ability to stream anything live from our theater yet,” he said. “We’re hoping by the end of the semester, maybe with our music ensemble. The jazz ensemble, the concert band, the flute choir, and the percussion ensemble; those four are all rehearsing this semester, and we’re hoping that we might be able to do a live concert with those ensembles at the end of the semester and stream that.”

The FPAC plans to reopen its doors with live programming on Jan. 23. However, as 2020 has continuously proven, nothing is certain, and these plans are still subject to change over the next few months.

The rescheduling process has not been a smooth ride. Hensel had to undergo the process three times: initially cancelling events through the end of April, then through the rest of the spring semester, then throughout the remainder of the year.

“That was challenging, because I’d already rescheduled some things, so I had to then figure out where to move all of those things that we already had scheduled, but I also had already booked next season,” he said.  “I already had contracts for shows in the fall and for the spring, so I had to take all the fall shows and figure out if we can move them into the spring, so some of them I just moved into next year, into the fall of 2021.”

There have been no further major reschedulings since, so as of now the schedule is up to date.

“A lot of it is going to depend on the status of this pandemic,” Hensel said. “We really don’t know how many people will be allowed to be in a theater at that point, so all we can do right now is assume that we’re going to have to take the basic precautions that everybody is taking.”

Hensel is involved in national and international performing arts organizations that are currently developing practices to ensure the safety of the audience and the performers.

“There are other parts of the world that are opening back up before we are, so a lot of us are watching what they’re doing,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of data that we’re developing based on watching other people around the world who are ahead of us.”

Tickets for the spring season are expected to go on sale in November. For more updates, keep an eye on the FPAC’s Facebook page or website, or @MVCCFPAC on Twitter or Instagram.