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BWW Blog: Make It Modern

The pandemic offers some surprising ways to modernize musicals!

BWW Blog: Make It Modern

Happy 2021, everybody!

It's a new year! Wahoo! Now I can't make those awful 2020 jokes and I'm sure we'll have so many new things to blog about. Anyway, about that pandemic...

Normally a new year would bring the promise of a lot of new theatre. With "Miss Rona" still running rampant, it does make it a bit harder to fulfill that promise- though not impossible. We've made huge strides in producing digital theatre! I'm even stage managing a production over Zoom this upcoming semester. We're doing Shakespeare, because nothing spells groundbreaking like a play written by an old white man from the 1500s.

I have to applaud my production team, as they've done a great job of modernizing our show for a digital age. It did make me wonder, though: why stop at Shakespeare? What other shows can we set in the present? I dare to ask the question: how do you update shows for a pandemic? Luckily, I may have the answers.

The highly anticipated revival of The Music Man starring Hugh Jackman was slated to play Broadway before NYC shut down. Now, we have time to do some lyrical adjustments to carry the show into 2021. May I suggest, "Trouble with a capital T and that rhymes with P and that stands for PANDEMIC!" I'd pay good money to see Sutton Foster's Marian the Librarian sing, "There was love all around but I never heard it singing... because Harold Hill was on mute again." You have to wonder: does the Wells Fargo Wagon have two day delivery?

Speaking of Miss Foster, I think it would be fun to bring back an updated version of her breakthrough show Thoroughly Modern Millie! For those who don't know, Millie is set in 1922 and is chock full of jazz, bootleg alcohol, and flapper dresses. Coincidentally, we are back in the roaring 20's now, albeit with less jazz music and bootlegging. However, there is still quite a lot of fringe. By that, I mean the bad bangs I gave myself last March. Sing it with me now: gimme, gimme that thing called a vaccine!

Okay, hear me out. Legally Blonde is pretty modern as it is since it was produced in 2007. Imagine, however, what would have happened if Elle Woods had done law school online? Actually, I worry that that might derail the whole plot because it's hard to bend and snap over a computer. Also, the Delta Nu house would definitely throw an illegal party and end up getting kicked from campus.

If you insist on modernizing a show that's considered "old," what about Kiss Me, Kate ? The original production was mounted in 1946 and concerns a theatre troupe producing our buddy.

Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew . There are actually a surprising number of moments in this show that would fit a pandemic atmosphere. Specifically, the end of Act 1 sees suitor Petruchio imploring the titular Kate- his unwilling new wife- to kiss him. Her refusal makes a lot more sense when they both have to stand six feet apart and wear masks at their wedding.

What did I tell you? There's a ton of potential for us to modernize shows in the time of coronavirus. I'm now going to sit back and wait for the phone calls to come rolling in, because so many people have millions of dollars to produce a show right now. Fair warning, though: not every musical can make the pandemic transition. The Prom would have just been canceled by the school board.

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From This Author Student Blogger: Maggie Cummins