PICTURED: Lilli Babb will perform music from The Phantom of the Opera for Haunted Broadway Drive-In Theatre this weekend. Photo submitted

by Emily Dodi 

The show must go on, but it can be a little tricky in the time of COVID-19. Luckily, theater people are a creative bunch and they always seem to find a way. Since stay-at-home orders were put in place, the Conejo Players Theatre has put up several Zoom and livestream productions and workshops. It also managed a way to go live and in (socially distant) person in August — and will do so again this month with Haunted Broadway Drive-In Theatre. The musical review features popular Halloween-themed songs, most of which are from Broadway shows like The Phantom of the Opera and Little Shop of Horrors and movies like Coco, The Rocky Horror Picture Show and The Nightmare Before Christmas.

Haunted Broadway Drive-In Theatre will be performed live onstage in the Conejo Players Theatre parking lot with the audience watching from the safety and comfort of their own cars. “No car will be farther than 60 feet away,” says producer Beth Eslick, who adds that spaces will be assigned according to the size of the vehicle to assure good sightlines for everyone, tiny hatchbacks and large SUVs alike.  

“We’re going to have our stage in the middle of our parking lot,” director Renee Delgado-Rose explains. “We’re lucky enough to have a very, very large parking lot. We’re going to have two rows of cars on each side of the stage, so, in essence, it’s going to be theater in the round.” 

CPT’s first drive-in review in August was performed on the back of a special flatbed truck. The show “was so well received that we added a show and then a few days later we added another one,” says Eslick.  “We could have added another one but we didn’t have any more time in the weekend . . . so then we thought, we really need to do this again.”

With the success of their first outdoor event, CPT decided to invest in a custom-built outdoor stage and an FM transmitter that broadcasts performances through car radios.  

“It’s pretty cool,” says Eslick. 

“Just like in an old fashioned drive-in,” adds Delgado-Rose.

“It’s going to be an absolutely spectacular show. Or should I say spooktacular?” Delgado-Rose says with a laugh. She adds that the show is the perfect way to get into the Halloween spirit. From the sound of it, the performers are already there. “The performers are so excited! They are really into it. They haven’t performed in months, so they are ready to get into makeup and costume.” 

Delgado-Rose says that at this rate, CPT will produce more shows this year than in a “regular” year. She adds that the family-friendly Haunted Broadway Drive-In Theatre is meant to “give people a reprieve from what they’ve been dealing with. Even if it’s only for an hour — it’s a really fun hour.”  

Haunted Broadway Drive-In Theatre, Oct. 23-25 at Conejo Players Theatre, 351 S. Moorpark Road, Thousand Oaks. For tickets and more information, call 805-495-3715 or visit www.conejoplayers.org.