Green Room will perform spring musical virtually

Green Room Theatre Company will be performing this year’s 2021 musical Working virtually because of COVID restrictions. 

The late 70s musical was adapted from a book written by Studs Terkel which was updated in 2012 and updated again by the Green Room to fit with current times during the pandemic. 

“It’s a unique musical, and it was just dumb luck that it’s perfect for a remote show. We had been planning to do this show before we even heard the word COVID, so we definitely lucked out,” said director Cher Schwartz. 

The musical is monologue heavy, and the songs feature different characters singing about their jobs. Students portray many different characters throughout the show. Sophomore Owen Leavitt portrays an ironworker, a firefighter, and a father. Freshman Grace James is a teacher named Rose. Sophomore Gus Calhoun portrays a delivery man, an office worker, a press agent, and a food delivery person. 

“A lot of us aren’t familiar with camera acting, and it is different from having to project and use big expressions and emotions like you would onstage. So Mrs. Schwartz, the director, has been having us practice gestures and facial expressions that work up close on a camera,” Leavitt said. 

The students had been learning how to perform in front of a camera to make the adjustment to the musical now being virtual. 

“We rehearse on Zoom, discuss ways in which playing to a camera is different than playing to a full audience. We discuss how characterization with voice, facial expressions and arm gestures becomes much more prominent,” Schwartz said.

Students film themselves on their phones with backdrops and ring lights. The tech director Ron Bowden has been teaching the students how to frame themselves properly and what they will need to check for. 

“Right now in rehearsal, we are working on lip-syncing the song with some hand motions and facial expressions. For example, at a certain point in the music we look to our left or right and smile at the person in the zoom square next to us,” James said.

Through winter break and every week after, the cast sent in recordings of themselves singing individual vocal parts to get pieced together. Paul Nielsen, choir director, created the tracks and helped put it all together. Students were wowed by editing and how it all came together. 

“The current plan for the musical is recording the songs for the musical, then recording the visuals, and finally putting it all together. The show will be recorded over the Chromebook, like a Zoom format,” Calhoun said. “I submit my part by recording it and sending the recordings to the director. Hopefully, in the future, we will go back to regular musicals on stage.” 

Tickets will still be sold as previous shows and will be streamed for a week in April. 

“Music Theater International, our licensure company, has partnered with a really great streaming service called ShowTix4U. We will be getting links out via email, Schoology, and social media when tickets are available. But how it works is you buy a ticket and get a link to use the night of the performance, and it takes you to their website where it streams the video for us,” Schwartz said.

All of the students have hopes that in the future the musicals will return to their more traditional way but have adapted well to it being virtual.

“We have every confidence that next year we will be able to bring back our usual stage shows and have a more traditional season. We are very excited to get back to our beloved Black Box. But in the meantime I am proud of our company for how they have adapted and committed to bringing theater to our community despite not being able to come into the building,” Schwartz said.