McCallum High School builds outdoor theater for in-person performances


AUSTIN (KXAN) — While some high school theater programs have moved to online performances, McCallum High School will hold an in-person performance of Urinetown starting Thursday night.

Theater teacher Joshua Denning said it has been a tough year on his students so he started reaching out to see if there was anywhere they could perform to a live audience.

“Originally, I was thinking about a tennis court or a baseball field,” Denning said.

Instead, he decided to build an outdoor stage on campus.

The stage took a week to build and cost $35,000, but parents were able to raise the funds so their kids could perform.

“They found funding, they found grants and they did all of this while we were teaching,” Denning said.

The outdoor stage sits on the east side of campus, facing the street, and offers plenty of space to spread out.

“It is like Zilker Hillside so we have a mini hillside,” Denning said.

“Whenever I found out we were going to be doing a show this year I was so excited,” said student Anderson Zoll.

“It is starting to feel like the old theater I remember,” said another student, Bobbie Currie.

There will be restrictions with the audience having to stay socially distant. Markers will keep individuals and family groups six feet apart and temperatures will be taken for anyone attending.

“We found some clear masks that universities use in their theater program because expressions are so important,” Denning said.

It will be a different experience, but students say they are happy the show will go on.

“It felt like I was missing something and now I finally got it back,” said student Abby Leman.

The school was hoping to have eight performances of Urinetown, but due to the recent winter weather, they’ll have four.

The next performance held on the outdoor stage will be “Clue” starting April 22.

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