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'The Ladies' Create Drive-In Theater Performances In Phoenix

STEVE GOLDSTEIN: I’ve been missing a lot of things during this pandemic.

MARK BRODIE: Like what?

GOLDSTEIN: Well, sports is a big one. I do like to go to the occasional movie. But I’ve really been missing getting out to see some live performances.

BRODIE: Same! I’ve been itching to see a concert or go to the theater! But I might have a solution for you, Steve.

GOLDSTEIN: What’s that? 

BRODIE: A drive-in performance. 

GOLDSTEIN: A performance, eh? Not a movie but an actual show? 

BRODIE: Exactly! The pandemic has forced a lot of entertainers to get creative and two local women have adapted their show to be CDC compliant and also a lot of fun. They’re called " the Ladies" and their show is part improv, part theater and part dance routines. 

LEANNE SCHMIDT: The ladies are a pair of awkwardly zany moms who poke fun at life's daily rituals to create live social entertaining events in unexpected places.

BRODIE: That was Leanne Schmidt, one of the Ladies. Her performance partner is Marlene Strang.  Since the pandemic hit, they have been doing  YouTube videos but they were missing the connection with a live audience. Here’s Strang.

MARLENE STRANG: I think a lot of our performance is fueled by the energy of our audience. And we love to experiment with this idea of, “OK, if this person reacts in this way, what can I do to add to that idea or enhance that?” Which is what we get really excited about in terms of the type of work we do. And so for this, we're like, well, we want everyone to be socially distant and safe and stay in their cars and windows up. Is there a way we can still feel that energy and connection to our audience?

BRODIE: The idea they came up with was “Ladies in the Headlights” — a drive-in show where Schmidt and Strang perform to an audience in a parking lot. They encourage the audience to participate in the shows by beeping their horns or flashing their lights. 

GOLDSTEIN: It definitely sounds like a totally unique experience. 

BRODIE: Right! And they’ve added some pandemic flare to their jokes. Here’s Schmidt again. 

SCHMIDT: So we've all seen during the pandemic, people lining up outside of businesses to get in, we can all relate to remembering that panic to buy toilet paper, for example. I live across the street from Costco so every morning around 6 or 7, everyone starts to line up in their lawn chairs. The Ladies are doing just that. When our audience pulls up in their car, the Ladies are in their lawn chair 6 feet apart, waiting for this business to open to get back in to be a part of pre-pandemic life.

GOLDSTEIN: But you know, half the fun of drive-ins of any kind are the concessions.

BRODIE: Not to worry! Each show partners with a local business so you can get some takeout while you enjoy the performance.

GOLDSTEIN: Perfect! 

BRODIE: The Ladies have two performances this weekend.

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Kaely Monahan joined KJZZ Original Productions as a producer in December 2016.Monahan is a native, and growing up in the East Valley gave her an intimate familiarity with the Valley of the Sun. Eager to experience a new city, she left Phoenix for Tucson to earn her degree in classical studies from the University of Arizona with an emphasis in mythology. Several years later, her focus transitioned from history to history-in-the-making and news. Monahan went on to earn her master’s degree in international journalism from City University of London.In London, Monahan worked with CBS News and The Times covering international news. On her return to Arizona, Monahan was the art and entertainment editor for the East Valley Tribune, before moving into broadcasting, where she worked in commercial radio as an anchor and reporter.Outside of work, Monahan spends her time reading historical novels, exploring new restaurants in the Valley, and watching movies. Her love of film led her to create a movie review podcast and website. Monahan is also the vice president of the Phoenix Critics Circle.