Theatre Arts Take the Stage to the Small Screen

Roxy Kuper-Wilson, Staff Writer

On February 5, 2021, after a semester of studying songs, dances, and scripts, Wilson Theatre Arts overcame the challenges presented by producing a play virtually and debuted their show, “Somewhere: A Theatrical Remix.”  The Musical Theatre students studied the classic musical, “West Side Story” and put on a variety of adapted performances in this YouTube presentation. 

Wilson Theatre Department

Although there were many challenges in producing a virtual play, the students rose to the occasion. According to Paula Riley, Wilson Theatre Arts teacher, the students had to sing while on “mute” in their own space, which made teaching difficult and collaboration nearly impossible. Riley said, “We couldn’t hear each other and as the teacher, I couldn’t hear students while teaching the group! That made it very time consuming to listen to the singers one at a time in order for me to help them correct mistakes or work on their vocal technique. We also could not do group songs since everyone’s wifi was on a different lag time! It sounds like a big mess if we try to sing together on Zoom!”

Riley said finding a performance space was challenging for students. Working from home was not ideal. Students had to find a quiet, private space at home to record their performances, which was hard to do when the entire family was home, including working parents and studying siblings sharing the space. Many students had to go in their garages, bathrooms, or yards in order to make their videos but the students made it work!

Riley said “The students miss each other so much! There is theatrical magic that happens when people are acting, singing, or dancing on stage together. It is just not the same on Zoom!” 

But the challenges of virtually performing gave rise to some unexpected good surprises. Riley said, “I was impressed by how they adapted and used their creativity to solve those problems!” 

Another positive outcome was cultivating the students’ talent at video editing.  Theatre Arts student Brynn Anderson spearheaded the production of the final product by collecting all the videos and creating slideshows and voice overs that made the video more interesting and entertaining!

Performing at home, the students showed their independence and personal responsibility in completing this project. Riley said, “I wasn’t there with them pushing them to perform like it is during an in-person production! They found the motivation to create wonderful performances by digging deep!”

Wilson Senior, Cayman Field said “This online production had to be the most difficult experience of my musical theatre journey over my past four years of high school.” Wilson Sophomore, Caroline Johnston said “I am just glad that Mrs. Riley was able to come up with a way for us to still perform in the comforts of our own homes.”

It is said, “The show must go on.” And it did, virtually, and the students were connected to their common study and performance, even though they were apart physically. “Somewhere: The Theatrical Remix” can be seen at this link.