The last time Amador and Foothill high schools joined forces to present a live theater performance, it cost $10,000 for the royalty rights and thousands more for costumes, props and other necessities to put on “All Shook Up,” a musical based on the songs of Elvis Presley.
After all that work and expense, the show wound up playing to an audience of stuffed animals. The performance’s timing ran into the bad luck of the first big COVID-19 crisis. Public theater retreated from its usual roles of entertaining and enlightening the community.
This year, though, the schools believe they have outwitted the pandemic in two ways. First, none of the players had contact with the others by recording their voices and instruments in their own homes. Later, technicians dubbed in the students’ recordings, a technique called lip-syncing.
This time, the audience won’t be stuffed animals. Students, teachers and the entire public will be able to attend via YouTube. If they enjoy “On Broadway,” audience members can send in donations to offset some of the technical costs and perhaps prepare for another production next year.
The public can see and hear the results online in a 47-minute video titled “On Broadway.” The show is already available online at bit.ly/3ataUcD. With guidance from their teachers, the students wrote a review, a theater term for a series of highlight performances from various shows. In “On Broadway,” those shows include “Shrek, the Musical,” “Guys and Dolls,” “The Pajama Game,” “Dear Evan Hansen,” and “Les Misérables.” The well-known “On Broadway,” from the song of the same title, serves as the grand finale of the 47-minute video.
Everyone involved with the production hopes students, parents and the general public will like it well enough to donate a few dollars to a fund to offset the production costs and for future funding, said Mark Aubel, who has been a music director in the district for 35 years. Katrina Brekke, who teaches choral music and other classes at Foothill, was the production’s vocal director.
The plot of the show has a character, played by Chloe Pinsonneault, taking shelter in an abandoned theater on ‘a dark and stormy night,’ the usual run-up to a horror movie. But this character gains confidence from the performances she sees from musicals, including Bob Fosse’s classic dance routine of women carrying fancy canes and wearing bowler hats. More good things happen to her from inspiring songs, and she is ready to take her place in the grand finale, “On Broadway.”
“We are so proud of all the students for making this production come to life,” said Aubel in an online comment. “Outstanding performances all around and special thanks to John Loll and Jane Bielke-Loll for their cinematography and for keeping our students safe throughout the entire process.”