The Medora Musical is planning to reopen this summer and has already begun drafting preliminary plans to do so.
"It's important for us to do everything we can to operate this year for two really big reasons," said Justin Fisk, marketing and communications director for the Theodore Roosevelt Foundation. "Number one, tourism is the number one economic driver in Medora. We want to protect people's lives and their livelihoods; and number two, Medora is a summer tradition for the people of North Dakota. ... There are going to be a lot of people who need a place to rejuvenate themselves and we want to be able to offer that for those who choose to do that this summer."
The governor has not yet released guidelines for reopening venues, but Foundation staff have been preparing various scenarios while waiting for the announcement.
"Some of the things that we are working through and kind of putting into place are options for a smart restart where we would have seat maps ... and some select nights with multiple shows so that on those nights that traditionally would have large crowds, we'd space them out over a couple of shows," Fisk said. "Throughout the theater, you'd be looking at likely an every other row seating scenario with some additional spacing between groupings of seats."
Should concessions still operate, such seating arrangements would make it easy for vendors to move around the theater.
"Our concession window would be spaced out between two or three or four tills and you have markings on the ground for a queue for people to wait to buy," Fisk said.
The Foundation is preparing to open at a limited capacity.
"We would probably start in that lower 30% range and then work into something in the 40% occupancy (range) and with guidance from the state health department and the governor, work our way up if it's appropriate," Fisk said.
He said that there is a lot of open space around the amphitheater, so with such a capacity, it would be easy for people to social distance.
Fisk said musical attendees will notice other familiar restrictions.
"You walk in Menard's or another retail outlet, you're seeing plexiglass shields; you're seeing employees who have a high amount of guest contact using some kind of face coverings. We're looking at all of those kinds of plans as well as the normal social distancing, so markings on the ground to space people out as they wait to get in, a different procedure for entering and exiting the theater," he said.
In addition to the musical, the Foundation is planning to reopen as much as it can.
"We will plan to open a number of retail outlets including the Medora Musical Welcome Center, the Bully Pulpit Pro Shop, the Roughriders Gift Shop in downtown Medora," Fisk said. "... It's important for Medora and it's important for the state, for economic reasons and for us to have some sense of normalcy. We can be both North Dakota Smart and North Dakota Tough and figure out a way to do this and entertain people and still be safe."