“Broadway Musical Magic”: Theater department performs outdoors

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By Aditi Dahagam and Jui Bhatia, Co-T/E Life Editor and Beats Editor Given the long history of ’Stoga musicals held in a conventional auditorium setting, the theater department never imagined moving the production outdoors. This year, though, the theater department will perform on Teamer Field, making this ’Stoga’s first ever outdoor musical. On June 5,...

By Aditi Dahagam and Jui Bhatia, Co-T/E Life Editor and Beats Editor

Given the long history of ’Stoga musicals held in a conventional auditorium setting, the theater department never imagined moving the production outdoors.

This year, though, the theater department will perform on Teamer Field, making this ’Stoga’s first ever outdoor musical. On June 5, the pit orchestra and actors will stage two shows of “Broadway Musical Magic,” a 22-minute medley performance of 12 songs from various Broadway musicals. Director and choreographer Nathan Shughart wanted an outdoor performance so he could include as many students as possible and have a live audience.

“Performers feed off the energy of a live audience, and family members are able to see their students in a year where there has not been a lot of moments like this. I also wanted to make sure we could include the amazing crews and pit orchestra that put in as many hours as the actors to prepare for the show,” Shughart said. “This was the best way to include everyone.”

Since there are regulations on how many people can attend large outdoor gatherings under the district’s Health and Safety Plan, students in the performance received 10 tickets for each show that they can give to friends and family. All students and staff involved in the musical are required to socially distance and wear masks during the performance and rehearsals. As the student assistant to the director, junior Ella Canas says these requirements don’t affect rehearsals because students still bring the same enthusiasm displayed in previous years.

“Theater kids just have so much energy. Even with the restrictions and masks and all of that, they still bring the same energy and the same love for what we’re doing which makes it just an incredible experience,” Canas said.

Outdoor rehearsals have also created some challenges for actors because they are subject to cancellation when  inclement weather transpires. Additionally, Shughart is not able to play the piano while singers learn their parts because it is difficult to transport it from the classroom to the practice area every day. To tackle these issues, the performers are taking actions such as learning vocal parts at home before coming to practice. A soloist in the performance, senior Alison Noll, believes that despite these challenges, the performers have found ways to stay motivated and create memories during rehearsals.

“We have been having a lot of fun as a cast and really enjoy getting to see each other again,” Noll said. “We always are laughing, probably more than we should be.”

The outdoor location of the play also poses challenges for stage crew because they share Teamer Field with athletes. To solve this problem, advisers Noah Austin and Michael Starner created a portable and easily dismantlable modular stage that could be brought to the field the day of the show. 

Similarly, since the sound crew cannot use the sound system that is already in the auditorium, they designed a new transportable sound   system which includes speakers, subwoofers and monitors to achieve a similar sound quality in the outdoors environment. Additionally, the pit orchestra will use electronic instruments, such as synthesizers and electronic drum sets, and microphones to amplify the music. Pit orchestra and sound director Christopher Nation is excited about the challenge of moving the musical outdoors.

“We embrace the new problems we need to solve and solutions that we need to find to produce a unique event like nothing we have ever done before,” Nation said.

Sophomore Molly Yablonovitz will attend the musical because she wants to support her friends and see the talent of everyone involved.

“I’m really interested to see the musical. It’s really cool that they found a way to still produce the musical safely,” Yablonovitz said.

Shughart is also excited about the outdoor musical because it boosts morale and allows performers to showcase their hard work to a live audience. 

“I wanted to give the students and their families a live theatrical performance in a time when live theater has been very limited,” Shughart said. “Theater can be performed anywhere, and while the outdoor performances bring many new challenges, it also opens many creative doors.”


Aditi Dahagam can be reached at [email protected]

Jui Bhatia can be reached at [email protected]

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