Community Players Theater is going mega meta with its latest production--a show that looks behind the curtain and reveals the pains and pleasures of creating a new musical.
[title of show] is a one-act musical by two guys that’s about two guys writing a musical about two guys writing a musical. The two guys are Jeff Bowen (music and lyrics) and Hunter Bell (book). The show follows the struggles behind the creative process and the impact that struggle can have on those involved.
Ashleigh Feger is directing the show for Community Players Theater (CPT). Due to pandemic concerns, it’s streaming live Nov. 5-8. By adapting to the streaming format, Feger said Community Players can take a chance in staging [title of show]. Ordinarily, CPT wouldn’t do this musical.
“It’s very out of the box, very different than what we would normally do,” Feger explained. “So, we thought it would be a good idea to bring something different, something a little more unique to the stage.”
[title of show] boasts a small cast and a tight physical focus that works well with an internet-based performance, said Feger.
“The nice thing about it is the majority of the set is based in these four character’s apartments," said Feger. "So, because of that, we’re running with the quarantine idea. We can make it look like they’re on Zoom calls, or make it look like they’re using FaceTime. It’s good staging and doesn’t call for a lot of money for sets. It’s all very stationary to the center of the stage. It’s good visually without too many elements going on with it.”
The streamed performance will take place at Community Players Theater, with only the actors, director, musical director, plus the camera and sound crew allowed in to capture the live performances. Everyone involved submitted to a COVID-19 test prior to rehearsals. With its small cast of four, [title of show] is a good fit for social distancing on stage, where there’s plenty of room.
“For staging, we are doing it in a ‘V’ formation,” Feger said. “Each person is going to have their own individual designated area that we’re going to make look like their apartments. They’re all going to be in office chairs, so it they have to move away quickly to keep the social distancing, they can just wheel offstage and wheel back on.”
The stage will be painted in a checkboard pattern in 5-by-5 squares. For blocking purposes, the actors will always be two squares apart to maintain social distancing.
The biggest challenge facing the actors is nailing down the technique of stage acting that’s also for the camera.
“As an actor on stage, you’re used to doing blocking and motion so big to play to the back of the house,” Feger explained. “Now they don’t have to do that. They are playing to a camera that could potentially be up in their face. It’s figuring out the blocking, their facial expressions, their movements to make sure it plays correctly for the live stream.”
[title of show] is an inside look at the creative process, and the labor pains associated with delivering a brand-new musical. Feger said the musical will give audiences a new appreciation for how tough that process can be.
“Most people don’t know what goes on behind the scenes of creating a show, and how long it can take a production to get onto Broadway or even off Broadway," she said. "Being able to see the effort and the work that these characters put into it, just to see their vision get realized--or not realized. It’s a lot of hard work. It’s a very challenging career path to be on. There’s a lot of rejection, there’s a lot of adjusting your vision to what other people want, even if it doesn’t fit with what you think is correct.”
Tickets for [title of show] are $10 and can be obtained from the Community Players Theater website. Performances live stream at 7:30 p.m Nov. 5-8.
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