By Nance Ebert, Contributing Writer
Hudson – Last spring, a group of Hudson High School (HHS) students were getting ready to perform their rendition of the musical “Peter Pan.” Then COVID-19 hit.
After months of rehearsal, set design, costumes and countless hours gearing up for their production, March 13, the entire show ground to a halt due to the pandemic.
A year later, HHS Director of Theater Kathleen McKenzie made clear she was not going to let that happen again.
Twenty-six cast members have now come together and will perform a virtual production of “The Little Mermaid” on April 9 at 7 p.m., April 10 at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m., and April 11 at 2 p.m.
Virtual musical presents challenges
This show is adapted from Disney’s production and movie and is based on one of Hans Christian Anderson’s stories. The show is recommended for all ages to enjoy.
“Because of the pandemic, this show was a huge learning curve for all of us,” McKenzie said in recent comments to the Community Advocate.
She explained how the audition process started somewhat similar to a normal set of auditions. Students received song options and a dance to learn. They then turned in a video with a chosen song, their dance, and a “scene audition.”
“The entire show was basically like making a film that I am then editing together,” McKenzie stated of the process since then.
That editing job is intense.
To compile her cast’s performance, McKenzie had to visualize where the performers would be and edit pieces of video together. In addition, props being passed from one performer to another had to be visually correct.
Then, there are vocals.
The cast, McKenzie said, used an app called Acapella, which works with one person recording a track to then send on to fellow cast members. The tracks then create one composite vocal part.
“I think the audience is in for a treat,” McKenzie said. “I hope they enjoy the show, but more importantly, I hope the kids are making a memory.”
Team comes together to guide production
Together, McKenzie, Rachael Shaw, an adult former student, Music Director Scott Cruikshank and Costume Director Deb Martin-Hardy have brought their level of expertise to this virtual production at a time when this task might have been deemed impossible.
“We are thrilled to still be able to create,” McKenzie said. “We are able to come together as a community singing, dancing and acting. The students have committed one hundred percent and they just want to perform.”
Virtual musical format creates unique situations for actors
There are quirks to this process.
One cast member in this show recently moved to the community. He joked that he might actually get to go into her classroom to meet McKenzie once school reopened for full-time in-person learning.
“Performing a virtual show rather than a live one was definitely a completely different experience,” added cast member Maia Frias. “You had to really learn how to react without any actors to play off of as well as be performance ready a lot quicker as we filmed each scene as we went.”
Still, cast members are optimistic.
“Our upcoming musical is a great way for Drama Society to show the community how we have rebounded in spite of the pandemic,” said cast member Ilan Levine.