When it came time for Georgia Rogers Farmer to debut a new cabaret during the pandemic, she knew what to name it: “Virtually Insane.”
“That’s how I’m feeling. I’m not the best Zoom person,” says Farmer, referencing the video conferencing platform that’s become a lifeline for people trying to work and socialize safely during the pandemic. “I feel like a lot of people [are] sick of the virtual world, not [being] able to see people.”
A local actress who’s starred in numerous sell-out cabarets of her own design, Farmer is performing “Virtually Insane” at Richmond Triangle Players next week as part of the LGBTQ+-focused theater company’s return the stage after a half-year hiatus.
To accommodate live shows during the pandemic, Artistic Director Lucian Restivo says the theater has reduced the capacity of its 93 seats to 27 socially distanced seats, put up stickers to remind patrons to socially distance, and now allows people to order drinks from the bar using an app. Drinks will be delivered to patrons at their seats.
Only two people will be allowed in each restroom at a time, and social distancing will be enforced for those in line. Triangle has also set specific times for patrons to appear at the theater to guarantee there’s no overcrowding at any point. Performances will also be either livestreamed or filmed and then streamed later.
Though performing conditions will be different than normal, Farmer says she’s attempting to adhere to much of her usual cabaret structure with “Virtually Insane.” In addition to performing a mix of pop tunes and musical theater numbers – including ones from Linda Ronstadt and “Phantom of the Opera” – Farmer will sing one of her classic cheesy medleys. This one will be themed around the pandemic.
“I’m trying to stick to my same format, even though it’s a weird time, so people feel there’s some semblance of how things used to be,” says Farmer, who will be accompanied by musical director and performer Joshua Wortham on piano.
One major difference is that Farmer won’t be able to interact with audiences as usual Still, Farmer promises that she has figured out a way to provide audience members with the homemade prizes and crafts that are a mainstay of her cabarets.
Going forward, Restivo says Triangle is about to announce the rest of its season and is receiving submissions through Oct. 9 for the So.Queer Playwriting Festival. Funded through an endowment by Triangle founder John Knapp and his husband, Tim Gillham, So.Queer is a new competitive, biennial festival of LGBTQ+-focused musical and nonmusical works. Five finalists will be announced in November. They will perform 45-minute excerpts in January and the winner will develop the work with Triangle over the next year into a main-stage production.
As for Farmer, she says she just wants to help audiences forget about the state of the world for a while with her cabaret.
“I hope that they will be excited that they were able to see something live and creative, and I certainly hope that they will laugh and be able to find some humor in what we’re all going through,” she says. “I hope it will be an escape. My No. 1 priority is for them to have fun and let loose for a couple hours.”
“Virtually Insane” plays Oct. 15-17 at Richmond Triangle Players, 1300 Altamont Ave. For information, visit rtriangle.org or call 804-346-8113.