noon tabernacle secondary (copy)

An audience composed of many summer seniors listens ti Julian Mondoza of the Utah Festival Opera sing during a past performance of Tabernacle Noon Concert Series.

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In a sign that life is returning to something like “normal” in Cache Valley, Utah State University has decided to resume its Summer Citizen program, and early indications are there will be plenty of Arizona sunbirds flocking in to partake.

“We’re not totally sure we’ll be full, but we’re expecting close to that. We’re already filling up the spaces we have available,” USU spokeswoman Amanda DeRito said this week.

The popular program — which provides apartments at USU and local housing complexes in conjunction with a lineup of special classes and programs — was cancelled last year at the start of the coronavirus pandemic. But this year the university decided the activities could be resumed relatively safely, especially with most seniors now vaccinated.

“I think everyone really loves having summer citizens come, and so it was a matter of how to do it in a safe manner,” DeRito said. “We’re focusing efforts on COVID-safe activities. We’ll do social distancing, masks will be required, we’ll be doing classes like we have in the past, and we’ll use the same protocols we’ve used for students all year.”

Aside from participating in USU-sponsored activities, visiting seniors have traditionally had a big presence at local musical and stage performances. What the summer of 2021 has to offer on this front is still somewhat up in the air.

The Utah Festival Opera and Musical Theatre, perhaps the biggest Logan entertainment draw, has yet to announce its plans for the season.

However, the Tabernacle Noon Concert Series is back on, and the Lyric Repertory Company has developed a series of “stage readings” in place of its traditional plays and musicals.

Lyric Artistic Director Richie Call said the readings will be performed at the Morgan Theatre on campus instead of the company’s smaller venue downtown, since state coronavirus restrictions currently limit seating to 10 percent of capacity. Actors will also be socially distanced and separated by plastic barriers.

“We anticipate these restrictions will be eased somewhat when June comes, and then we can do more with our staging,” he said.

The readings will feature two to four actors along with a stage-direction announcer. The roster includes “The Mountain Top,” an imagined account of Martin Luther King’s last 24 hours; “Dreaming American,” a story by USU theater department head Paul Mitri about his grandfather’s immigration to the United States from Egypt; and “The Thanksgiving Play,” a satire about white actors trying to portray the first Thanksgiving without any Native Americans in the cast.

The Lyric has several other modified productions planned throughout the summer that will be listed on its website soon.

The tabernacle concerts will go on pretty much as in the past, with just a few modifications. Audiences will be socially distanced, as will the performers, complements of an extended stage.

Richard West, one of the series organizers, said the decision to resume the shows this year hinged largely on the return of the summer seniors, and after that became a go, the scheduling of performers fell into place quickly. Around 40 events have been scheduled so far.

“Knowing that our summer citizens are going to be with us again this summer just added a little motivation to make sure we could get everything worked out,” he said.

Charlie McCollum is the managing editor of The Herald Journal. He can be reached at or 435-792-7220.

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