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BWW Blog: Gliding Through Virtual Productions - Frosty's World #3

“We are gliding far beyond!” (Gliding, from Ragtime)

BWW Blog: Gliding Through Virtual Productions - Frosty's World #3

Art inspires and heals. Lynn Ahrens' Tony Award winning lyrics from the Broadway musical Ragtime have been running through my head ever since viewing a virtual performance of the show produced by Mad Factory Theatre Company in nearby Oberlin, OH. We are so lucky to have such great theater opportunities just a short drive from our campus outside Cleveland. It was great to see Baldwin Wallace University student Stephen Sandham performing in a play that was written 45 years ago, but seems like it could have been written yesterday. Tensions about economic disparity, racial injustice and immigrant oppression -- does this sound familiar? The solo performances and backtrack were wonderful, even viewed on my laptop with a green-screen production format that allowed performers to sing without masks. The song, "Make Them Hear You" might have been an anthem for millions of voters in the recent election.

BWW Blog: Gliding Through Virtual Productions - Frosty's World #3

Speaking of the recent election, and theater journalism site RDU Onstage joined forces on election night to sponsor an online Community Coloring Night: Color Calm and Cope event aimed at calming the nerves of anxious voters. Ask any book publisher. Adult coloring books and mandalas are one of the hottest trends in the last couple years. The Coloring Broadway organization provides templates that feature the inspiring messages of the musical theater. You download, print and bring out the colored Sharpies. Participants on the Zoom platform doodled and shared their creativity while Lauren Van Hemert (RDU Onstage Editor-in-Chief and theater critic) led a group of moderators for a discussion about their love for Broadway and musical theater. Talk about art therapy, the event drew participants from across the United States.

BWW Blog: Gliding Through Virtual Productions - Frosty's World #3

Back on campus, our Arts Management curriculum is giving students the back story about the effect of the pandemic on arts organizations. Sean O'Malley, Director of Business Analytics for Cleveland's Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, visited our finance class recently and described the drastic drop in earned revenue related to the pandemic. In my fundraising course, Baldwin Wallace Arts Management alumna Theresa Tapocsi from the Veritus Group visited to describe the pandemic's impact on major gift fundraising. Deborah Hermann of Cleveland's Ghostlight Productions spoke about her career in theater "friendraising" through special events linked to Broadway plays like Lion King and Wicked. If you are like me and don't sing like Idina Menzel, learning about behind the scenes opportunities in the arts business is pretty important.

BWW Blog: Gliding Through Virtual Productions - Frosty's World #3

It was a privilege to serve as a student usher for Baldwin Wallace University's recent production of Muses Anonymous, written and directed by my dance professor Sara Whale. This ushering job was a little different. My ushering experience as a Redcoat at Cleveland's Playhouse Square involves shiny shoes, a bow tie, and a very funky red blazer. For Muses Anonymous, winter coats, masks and Halloween swag were in vogue as we ushered cars into a unique outdoor parking lot performance. Imagine a singing and dancing event with passages ranging from Monty Python to Edgar Allan Poe -- and don't forget another Chekhov The Seagull reference! The group dances were the joyful highlight, along with lines delivered from the bases of parking lot light posts. By the end, nobody even noticed the chilly weather!

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I know that my readers are on the edge of their seat waiting to hear about Baldwin Wallace University's recent performance of Stupid F##king Bird, and whether the leaves that I glued to the prop tree survived the performance. I am happy to report that the performance, directed by BW's René Copeland was fantastic, and the set held up beautifully! I was so lucky to watch Managing Director Jeffrey Hermann at work backstage. He recently returned to our University after working as Production Manager at Great Lakes Theater Festival. His scenic design and technical work skills can even withstand clumsy student helpers like me! The COVID-19 restricted performance was presented on a streaming platform, but the blocking, staging and video were a perfect fit. You felt like you were sitting in a theater. Oh yes, there was a performance too. This modern adaptation of Chekhov's The Seagull is still not a comedy, although I suspect that Chekov would have enjoyed seeing a NutriBullet and berry smoothies worked into the action. I'm told he had a sense of humor. I can't give the student actors enough credit. It only took a couple minutes to forget that they were wearing masks onstage. There were plenty of surprises, especially in the final scene.

BWW Blog: Gliding Through Virtual Productions - Frosty's World #3

I can't wait for the upcoming University performance of Duncan Sheik and Steven Sater's Spring Awakening. It is directed by Baldwin Wallace's legendary Victoria Bussert, who has tutored so many current Broadway performers. Professor Bussert has done it all during her stellar career, except for maybe a pandemic restricted major musical? This has been an enormous special effort by students and faculty, putting together a "guerilla film" presentation that will stream starting November 19th. The singing, dancing and scenic design took place in over 40 local filming locations and adhered to strict University pandemic guidelines. Talk about inspiring arts - this one will be unforgettable!

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