MESA, Ariz. - A local comedy theatre will start performing socially distant, fully-masked outdoor improv shows on Saturdays in Mesa - and it's all thanks to the community's help after a Christmas thief almost ruined their plans.
Laughter could be heard all along Main Street in Mesa on Saturday, Feb. 20.
"Hearing real people in real time laughing out loud was so...it just fills your soul up," said Krissy Lenz, director of the Neighborhood Comedy Theatre, formerly known as the National Comedy Theatre.
Lenz says their trial outdoor show this weekend was a hit, and they will continue to take improvisational outdoor comedy outdoors starting next week for the public.
It seemed so unlikely just a month ago.
Along with the challenges of configuring a pandemic-safe show, their efforts were thwarted Christmas morning when their trailer containing their A/V boards, microphones and lights were all stolen.
However, one day after FOX 10 reported on the theft, an anonymous viewer replaced the boards while others in the community offered thousands of dollars in donations so the theatre could get one step closer to these shows.
"Without those donations and the support of the community, it would not have been possible," said the director.
As thanks, the National Comedy Theatre changed its name to the Neighborhood Comedy Theatre.
For the shows to be safe, the seating was separated in pods, with performers wearing specialized handmade masks.
"It’s kind of like you’re in a space suit," Lenz said. "We had three different stages of varying sizes so that our performers could be distant from each other but still have an intimate feel."
The changes are a lot of hoops to jump through, but the reward of a crowd's laughter is worth it.
"For us to be able to contribute something that will be able to have people safely come out and about in the community and hopefully get something to eat and something to drink while they’re down here...it feels really good," the director said.
Come out and watch an NCT Phoenix Improv show: https://nctphoenix.com/
Get breaking news alerts in the FREE FOX 10 News app. Download for Apple iOS or Android.