Gracefully sitting underneath a lone bulb of light, Abigail Philpott performed “First You Dream” from the musical Steel Pier. She sang about “remarkable times” of dreaming and flying through the night sky. By the end of her number, she was enveloped in the stars and reminded the audience that they are never truly alone.
On March 4, the virtual musical production ‘Crushing the Curve: A New World’ united performers and audience members by exploring the way that people feel trapped by the ongoing pandemic.
“The looking back could end it all,” Philpott sang. “Off we go to the sky. Straight ahead. You and I. Together now. Together now.”
‘A New World’ was a compilation of musical theatre songs. There was an overarching sense of camaraderie in most of the musical numbers, which were chosen by Director Andrew Barratt Lewis.
Designed to showcase the talents of the performers, the show was created so audiences can understand and appreciate the different ways in which musical theatre stories can be told.
“You Love Who You Love” from Bonnie & Clyde the musical, performed by Franki Ferreira and Marie Howell, broke up the classic Broadway showtune sound with ballad-inspired vocals and audio.
On the opposite side of the spectrum, “Big Spender” from Sweet Charity was a strong female-led performance by Philpott, Ferriera, Howell, Anna Carr, McKenna Tedrick, Morgan Hekking and Sarah Michelle Jensen.
The “Big Spender” performers dazzled audiences with glitz from the ’60s as they danced in their sparkly dresses and matching masks.
The number was inspired by a group of jaded ladies who pretend to be interested in men at a bar as the women used the single horizontal steel bar as a dancing prop to lure them in. It’s all for show, and illustrates a closeness between the women.
Some performances were not filmed on a stage. For example, “She Loves Me” from the musical She Loves Me, performed by Christian Clarke, was filmed in the snowy weather of Ogden Park.
The camaraderie continues between performers Tedrick and Jensen, as they sing “What You Don’t Know about Women” from the musical City of Angels.
In the musical, there is an interaction between reality and fiction because of the similarities between two women whose men will not listen to them. To split the difference between reality and fiction, Lewis chose to show one of the characters in color and the other in black and white.
The lyrics went, “You think if you can sound sincere then we’ll come running to you. Throw in some truth for atmosphere, but we can see right through you. And every hollow compliment and phrase defines and underlines what you don’t know about women.”
No matter the time period, women can relate to each other because of a man’s impact. According to the song, women are smarter than they have been led to believe. They aren’t gullible enough to always believe a man’s words.
Along with the importance of visual elements, Lewis brainstormed the transitions in between songs to cater to the main audience.
”This musical is of greater interest to college students because it leans on current technology and trends that they may be more familiar with, but ultimately the musical is for all ages,” Lewis said.
Lewis said, despite the absence of audiences to watch a show, a positive lesson to come out of the pandemic for performers is learning to shoot and capture video for future projects.
“I hope that our performers have learned the valuable skill of filming their own material,” Lewis said. “Due to the pandemic, the students had to do a great deal of work on this project remotely and on their own.”
The teamwork it took to work on the digital theatre experiment of ‘Crushing the Curve: A New World’ is something that students and staff members are still trying to navigate. The togetherness shown throughout the musical numbers reflected the students who performed as those characters.