Zoom Upstage Left

Play production prepares for an online show


Photo: Aidan Lee (Courtesy)

With the transition to online learning, the musical will perform online rather than in Founders Hall this semester.

Theater directors across the world face a unique problem this year: with theaters unsafe to use, they must rethink what form their shows will take.
University Prep fine arts teacher and theater manager Paul Fleming has been planning to put on UPrep’s fall musical, which typically takes place in Founders Hall.
“[The musical is] going to be a series of short scenes woven together at music, monologues, and dialogues,” Fleming said.
Fleming plans for this musical to be a reflection of current events. Although this musical will happen under unique circumstances, it’s not unusual for musicals to comment on social problems or events. Much like every other art form, the creation of a musical is a personal process. Students should draw on their own experiences, recent and distant, which will help the musical feel more grounded in the present. Fleming believes students should look at Corona, Restlessness, Being cooped up, and BLM to create a more personal experience for viewers.
While the students adapt to an online format, many wish this year could be like in past years.
“We all wish we had been able to do a traditional show. But because we’re over Zoom, we recognize that that’s not possible,” senior actress Georgia Paterson said. “It’s just hard because I have experienced [the musical] in person for three years and I like the environment in person.”

It made me think of Disney’s Fantasia in [it’s era]…Because America wasn’t ready for that. ”

— Paul Fleming, Theater Manager

While students are restricted to an online format, Fleming believes that, pending a hybrid model, there are changes students could put on a more traditional musical.
“If we go to school then do the hybrid thing, we’ll shoot [the musical] on stage,” Fleming said. “Stagecraft would build a set for each sequence or group of sequences.”
No one has a perfect solution to the problem, but everyone is working their hardest to try and make the experience as fluid and as fun as possible.
“Nobody signed up for making a movie or making a TV show or making a podcast or any of that. But that’s what we’re stuck with,” Fleming said.
“[Vocal music teacher Tim Blok and Fleming] have been doing a good job of handling Zoom and handling the rehearsal process over Zoom,” Paterson said.