In March of 2020, many professional actors were performing in shows and had gigs booked for months in advance. All that ended around March 15, when live theater was brought to a crashing halt by the COVID-19 pandemic.

With theaters across Lancaster County reopening and the Fulton Theatre in Lancaster city having announced its new season, actors are taking stock of the ways in which they got through the pandemic and looking forward to what the coming months will bring.

We asked four professional actors who live in Lancaster County and work regularly at the Fulton to share their experiences.

Randy Jeter, a singer and musical theater actor who has performed with a few different local theaters, had months of work booked before the pandemic hit.

“I was one of the lucky ones,” Jeter says. “Ever since I graduated from the Manhattan School of Music, I knew what I wanted to do … and I was lucky enough to keep steady work until the pandemic happened.”

Last spring, he and his photographer wife, Abigail, did some landscaping at their home. Then, “I decided to go into the studio (in Harrisburg) and make a Christmas album.”

“Randy Jeter: A Christmas Album” is currently an EP with four songs, but he looks to expand it to a full album for release by this fall.

He performed on some streamed concert videos with the Ephesus Ensemble, a Harlem, New York-based group he began singing with in college.

In September, he performed in “Brave & Beautiful” with Prima Theatre, an outdoor show featuring music made famous by female artists such as Carole King and Sara Bareilles. Over the holidays, he was one of the performers in a Christmas concert recorded before a small, invited audience at the Fulton for its streaming platform.

In between those gigs, “I just didn’t want to sit back and do nothing and collect unemployment,” Jeter says. So in November he went to work delivering packages for Amazon.

He was unhappy, he says, not being able to do what he loves — performing. He has quit that job, he says, because “all of a sudden, I’m booked for the whole year” as a performer.

He was set to perform earlier this month in a Rodgers & Hammerstein revue at the Gretna Theatre. At the Fulton, he appears as the narrator in a streaming version of Igor Stravinsky’s “A Soldier’s Tale” with the Lancaster Symphony Orchestra, and will be part of the Fulton’s upcoming “Let’s Celebrate Together” concert this summer. And he’ll end the year as part of the cast of the American Music Theatre’s Christmas show.

“It was a big, big shock,” Jeter says of the theater shutdown, recalling how he’d pretend he was getting ready for a show in order to keep his singing voice in shape.

“Luckily, I could tough it out,” he says. “I have a pretty thick skin. I knew there was light at the end of the tunnel.”

Andrew Kindig and Katie Sina Kindig became friends through doing theater at the Fulton, later dating and then marrying in 2012. They have two children, Alice, 6, and Charlie, 4.

“We both were in the middle of a final dress rehearsal for ‘Snow White’ at the Fulton” in March 2020. Katie says, “and we found out would not open the following day.” Their babysitter woke their children and brought them to the theater so they could see their parents’ show before it shut down.

“I think there’s been a real roller coaster of emotions,” Katie says. “It was like a mourning process. … One of my friends said it’s really difficult to realize that … we’ve literally been deemed ‘nonessential.’ Through history, the arts always prevailed in times of tragedy, so incredible things will be learned from this, but it was definitely a lot of adjustment.”

“We both had opportunities in shows for the summer, and as those dates rolled around where that show wasn’t going to happen, it would all of a sudden get heavy in here,” Andy says.

“But, honestly, we were able to really be with our kids,” Katie says, “and, on a positive note, watch the seasons evolve because it was it was just the four of us, doing everything in nature.” The couple could be there for the kids’ bedtimes, which they can’t always when they’re working in theater.

Very early in the pandemic, the couple’s church, First Presbyterian of Lancaster, offered Andy a full-time job as director of digital production, coordinating the presentation of services that had gone online.

“I found a real artistic avenue through it,” Andy says. “That really helped lift those down moments,” he says, when he had something to create every week. He’s able to use the skills he’s developed as a director for the Fulton’s family series of children’s shows.

Katie continued to work for the church part time in the children’s ministry.

“We love how much our church has supported us over this last year,” Andy says. “And we love that we’re going to be able to continue there as well as be able to do shows as much as we possibly can. The definition of a godsend is what happened to us.”

During the pandemic, Katie also taught at the Fulton’s online summer camps, and taught dance at a local dance school, along with choreographing Lancaster Mennonite School’s spring showcase.

The Kindigs performed in some streamed concerts with the Fulton, and hosted a fundraiser for the Lancaster Conservancy.

Katie has been cast in the role of Helen Bechtel, the mother in the Fulton Theatre’s production of “Fun Home,” the first mainstage musical of the 2021-22 season.

“As auditions come around, we’ll kind of get back into the swing of things,” Andy says.

When they return to acting on the Fulton stage, Katie says, “I think it’s going to be that rush of that collaborative energy” she says she has missed.

“It’s going to be emotional,” Andy says. “Elation filled with a little bit of tears for what we’ve lost, mixed with some hope for the future.”

Randall Frizado, who has performed, produced and directed in the area, was also in the cast of the Fulton’s “Snow White” when the pandemic closed it.

Frizado had also begun marketing his Imagination Station through the Dutch Apple Dinner Theatre — “a series of 30-minute interactive musicals that go into elementary schools to teach kids about bullying, cyber awareness” and other topics, he says. And he was set to direct the summer theater camps at Gretna Theatre in Mount Gretna.

Though he and his wife, Gretchen, married in a civil ceremony, they’ve had to push back their wedding date four times — to October of this year.

Frizado says he started out the pandemic playing video games, reading and writing and helping his 12-year-old triplets, Cooper, Zachary and Madelyn, with their school work.

Then, he turned the Sunday night Frizado’s Downtown Cabaret he has hosted at Josephine’s restaurant in Lancaster into a funny online Facebook conversation with some of his theater friends.

“Then, I was sitting on my hands, so I started delivering food … for Instacart and then for DoorDash,” Frizado says. “I actually found it quite peaceful.”

He produced TV commercials and photo shoots with TC Productions of Lancaster, and was part of the cast for the Fulton’s fundraising telethon last year.

He now creates on-board experiences, such as escape rooms and trivia nights, for the Strasburg Rail Road as the director of creative content. He was preparing to direct the sold-out theater camps at Gretna Theatre earlier this month.

He plans eventually to relaunch the Imagination Station.

“The work is going to come back,” Frizado says. “I’m going to be back on stage as soon as I can possibly get my behind up there.

“I have this hole, this part of me that’s missing,” Frizado says, “and I can’t fill it, no matter what I do, until the curtain comes up and I can perform again.”

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