Drake Theatre recently produced a main stage musical through the COVID-19 pandemic

Drake Theatre has transformed how students rehearse and present their shows due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The cast won’t be performing to a large in-person audience, but rather, a single camera recording of the performance for later online viewing.

The cast of Songs for A New World performing “On the Deck of a Spanish Sailing Ship, 1492” (Shot by Miles Fritz)

“Songs for A New World” isn’t a traditional story. It’s a glimpse into a series of life-changing moments in different peoples’ lives throughout different decades. All of course expressed through song. 

Director, Adam Yankowy explains the main theme of change found throughout the musical numbers. 

“The show is about the moments in life where we come to the metaphorical fork in the road,” Yankowy said. “Life is going along and then something happens and you have to make a decision that could change your life forever.”

Music is the backbone of this production and for actor, Zach Barry, it’s been his favorite part of the experience so far. 

“I have been obsessed with the soundtrack,” Barry said. “There are so many intricate harmonies and parts to the music that I could not wait to work on, and it really is a pleasure to finally be singing it with the rest of the cast.”

“I would love people to tune in to the live stream for our show,” Barry said. “I believe that this variety of stories will be beautifully told in a way that can resonate with each member of our audience…there is a certain relatability factor that I feel will make a special connection for those who attend.”

“Songs for A New World” was originally scheduled for Spring 2020, but COVID-19 moved rehearsals to a whole year later. Any 2020 senior actors and designers had to abandon their commitment to the show except for now alumna, Sydney Crutcher whose original set designs are still being used.

Reality Hendrix performing “Surabaya Santa” (Shot by Miles Fritz)

“This is the first time I have been distantly involved in a production which is a little weird,” Crutcher said. “I’m halfway across the country so I really have to rely on everyone to keep me in the loop.”

While it may seem odd, Crutcher reassures audiences that a lot of time and preparation has gone into the construction of this show.

“A lot of theatre and entertainment right now feels thrown together or last minute, but this show is quite the opposite,” Crutcher said. “I started thinking of the set design in June of 2019, and while it has gone through many iterations to accommodate the pandemic, the product our audiences will see is the best edition.” 

Actress, Natalie Payne is thrilled to be back in her element on the stage after the long halt the pandemic created. 

“It has been a blessing to simply sing and dance with my peers again,” Payne said. “The music and choreography are challenging, and I have loved attacking the work as a team.” 

COVID-19 has presented troubles at times for the cast as they’ve worked through rehearsals. Actress, Niaa Dowell expresses how times can get hard to stay motivated during this time. 

“It has actually made it pretty difficult for me just because it feels weird trying to operate safely under these new regulations,” Dowell said. 

Despite the new challenges cast and crew face, Barry urges people to take a look at what the cast and crew have been able to present.

“I would love people to tune in to the live stream for our show,” Barry said. “I believe that this variety of stories will be beautifully told in a way that can resonate with each member of our audience…there is a certain relatability factor that I feel will make a special connection for those who attend.”

Read more blogs here.

Shot and Edited By Miles Fritz