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BWW Blog: The Generosity of the Arts Community is All Around Us - Frosty's World #7

There is plenty of evidence that the theater community is a generous group.

BWW Blog: The Generosity of the Arts Community is All Around Us - Frosty's World #7

The old adage says, "It's better to give than to receive." The spirit of giving around the holidays was alive among theater fans. There were multiple shows available online that kept me busy during this winter break. Many of the performances were staged virtually to benefit charities that support arts organizations hampered by the pandemic. There is plenty of evidence that the theater community is a generous group.

One of the highlights of my Christmas was participating in Joy Rosenthal's secret Santa gift exchange. Did you know that there is an online secret Santa generator? I was not one of the 17 million people who were aware of, the generator that provided the platform for Broadwaywiz fans to spread Christmas cheer through a gift exchange. I was a little hesitant to jump in. Did I have faith to spend money on strangers -- even if they are fellow theater lovers? I'm so glad that I did! My secret Santa took special effort to wrap my multiple gifts, including my new favorite earrings (Hadestown Playbill replicas), t-shirt ("Be Kind!") and a Tinkerbell souvenir - among other items. Finding this treasure in my mailbox immediately made me worry that I had not been generous enough with my own secret Santa assignment! Oh well, there is always next year to pay it forward.

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Winter break was not for rest and relaxation for fellow Baldwin Wallace student Joshua Amsterdam and his team, who put together a very ambitious virtual production of Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice. This Zoom performance featured many of my classmates, and the casting choices were thought-provoking. The production was fluid and cast members performing multiple roles performed flawlessly. This free presentation captured my favorite Shakespeare devices - gender swapping, trickery and illusion. With all of the attention drawn in 2020 to racial inequities, you couldn't miss that Shakespeare captures timeless themes through the Shylock character in this tragicomedy. Congratulations to Joshua and the team of students that generously contributed their time. Their independent performance was fantastic.

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Time for some popular entertainment! I've been obsessed with Wayne Brady ever since becoming addicted to the TV show, Whose Line is it Anyway. Like so many others, I became convinced that I was destined for a career in improv comedy. Broadway legend Seth Rudetsky brought Brady into our homes last week with the performance of The Seth Concert Series with Wayne Brady and Seth Rudetsky. The performance showcased Brady's talents and made me a new fan of the Broadway Podcast Network.

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Wayne Brady also participated in the gateway drug that led me to become a TikTok fan - starring as Django in the recent production of Michael Breslin and Patrick Foley's Ratatouille: The TikTok Musical. This online adaptation of the Disney classic has raised over $2 million for the Actor's Fund and was a banquet of Broadway stars! Broadway veteran Tituss Burgess as Remy was perfection in voice and colleague Mary Testa as Skinner was a comedic gem. Compared to a Disney movie, it is amazing how fast this production was put together and how entertaining it became with such a remarkable cast. The actors performed from home, and a countdown clock on screen provided a clever, unifying stage framing. The orchestration was from Broadway Sinfonietta, a 20-piece group of women-of-color musicians. I'll be honest, I was a TikTok late adopter. My older sister, a fan of the movie, had been obsessed with the Ratatouille TikTok for weeks. We hoped that buying tickets to this charity performance would cure her relentless singing of the show's main theme. No such luck. Instead, I became a TikTok fan myself!

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TikTok has opened some theater doors! It brought me to theater maven Stacy Moscotti and got me hooked on her initiative called Broadway 2 a Day. By now, almost 4,500 @theatrekidauditioncoach fans have joined the effort to spend their extra pandemic time listening to classic Broadway musicals, hosted over a variety of audio streaming platforms. Even for a musical theater nut like me, two musicals a day is pretty ambitious. One lesson - the 1950s scores are LONG! I've made it through the original cast recordings of; A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Out of this World, Flahooley, Oklahoma, Guys and Dolls, Bridgadoon, and Paint Your Wagon. Cole Porter's operatic and dream-like work, "Use Your Imagination" from Out of this World was out of this world! Sylvester's and Sandy's love song, "He's only Wonderful" from 1951's Flahooley, written by Sammy Fain and E.Y. Harburg, is now stuck in my Broadway brain! Thanks, Stacy, for keeping this rich musical history alive!

COVID testing is done. I'm ready to move back into the dorm and start the spring semester, even though looking out the window in Cleveland doesn't bring any hints of spring. Our semester at Baldwin Wallace University is a bit condensed due to the pandemic. Spring break has been eliminated for the sake of safety. My classes will remain in hybrid or virtual formats. I will see the generosity of the theater and arts community every day as the faculty works overtime to bring students together in novel ways.

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From This Author Student Blogger: Laura Frost