The coronavirus pandemic has forced journalists of all stripes to adjust their work routines. For Dateline’s Keith Morrison, that meant taking his talents to Southern California and the Laguna Playhouse.
The legendary playhouse in Laguna Beach, Calif., has been closed to the public during the pandemic, but Morrison and his team at Dateline made a deal where they could produce his Dateline segments from the theater. Morrison hasn’t been able to conduct his field interviews like he’s accustomed to, so he’s conducted the interviews via Zoom and everything else from the Laguna Playhouse.
“I walked in here soon after the pandemic started and it was like coming into a silent church or something on a Wednesday morning. Nobody around, quiet as a tomb,” Morrison said from a theater consisting of his production team, lights, cameras and various screens. “A really beautiful space, a theater like you’d see in New York City or anywhere else—with an entire stage for us to do our work.”
Morrison remarked that he used the same crew throughout the pandemic, for safety purposes. They fiddled around with different lights, backdrops and theater props on the stage to make each scene look unique.
“If my guest, the interviewee was a thousand miles away or ten-thousand miles … [it would be] in a very different-looking room every time,” said Morrison.
The Laguna Playhouse plans to begin putting shows back on stage this year. Morrison said he’s excited about the prospect of getting back in the field, but he’ll also miss the playhouse. And he’ll really miss having his own dressing room with his name on the door.