The Abington High School Drama Club’s 2021 spring musical promises to be unlike any put on before it.
COVID-19 precautions have made it impossible to stage a full production in front of a live crowd for the second year in a row. However, the Drama Club has gotten creative.
Its production of Working: A Musical was performed live on the Abington Middle/High School Auditorium stage, recorded and edited into a live film by a student-led Abington Community Access & Media crew, and will be made available to view via streaming this Thursday and Friday night at 7 p.m.
“As much as we will miss the excitement and energy of a live audience, we are glad we were able to work on this project and share it with the community in the comfort of their own homes,” said Drama Club Advisor and production director Steve Shannon. “The students did a great job navigating this new way of creating theater.”
Ticket packages can be ordered by visiting ShowTix4U.com and searching “Abington”. Packages are based on the number of people who will be watching and the number of devices the production will be viewed on; only one code is allowed per device, according to a release from the drama club. The event will be streamed in real time for two nights only; viewers will not be able to pause it or view it at a later date.
Working is a musical based on the 1974 Studs Terkel book Working: People Talk About What They Do All Day and How They Feel About What They Do. The production, which was written by Steven Schwartz and first performed in 1977, with multiple revisions in the years since, features material by a collection of renowned composers/songwriters including Schwartz, James Taylor and Lin-Manuel Miranda. It spotlights the daily stories of everyday workers from across the country, and how they find dignity in what they do.
The show’s format, which is heavy on monologues compared to interactive dialogue, made it a good choice for the cast, which had to maintain social distancing during rehearsals and performances, Shannon said.
Senior Lyla Blanchard said it was disappointing to not have an audience for the second year in a row, but that producing Working was an enjoyable experience.
“It has been so different filming our production with no audience to watch the magic. With this being said, it has been such a gift to have been able to have found a way to still successfully put on a high school production to help honor the seniors, give all members of the club a chance to shine and give our community [the] ability to still watch a wonderful performance,” she said.
Blanchard, who plays the role of the newscaster, helped Shannon produce the musical as part of an independent study course.
“I have learned how to attain the rights to perform a live streamed show and was able to record vocal tracks, dance numbers and monologues for a very skilled film crew,” she said. “Of course, having to perform in separate squares six feet away from each other on the stage has not been ideal, yet in a way this separation has made us closer and stronger as a community and we are all so excited to share our hard work with many members of the community. We get the gift of bringing the joy of theatre into people’s homes.”
Performers initially had to learn both solo and group numbers remotely and through meetings on Microsoft Teams. Because of social distancing rules, all the singing tracks had to be pre-recorded. And ensemble dance numbers were choreographed to allow performers to remain spaced apart. Bit by bit, over the course of a few weeks, each scene and musical number was recorded and edited together with help from a student-led crew from Abington Community Access & Media. .
“As a club we accepted from the start that this production was not going to be a perfect movie film, we wanted this performance to look as authentic as possible with each performer putting their best effort forward and leaving it all out on the stage,” Blanchard said.
“We hope that viewers still get the feeling of sitting in the auditorium on opening night, even when they are viewing the show from their living room couch. We hope to bring smiles to the community’s face as they hear our strong harmonies and see the enormous amount of work that has gone into making this show possible.”
More information on the show is available by visiting https://abingtonhsdrama.wixsite.com/ahsdrama