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VIDEO: World Premiere Musical CORONIALS Now Streaming On YouTube


VIDEO: World Premiere Musical CORONIALS Now Streaming On YouTube

Back on March 13, members of the Box Elder High School (BEHS) Theatre Department in Brigham City, Utah, had spent the day making final preparations for its regional competition - packing hundreds of costumes, organizing props, and putting final touches on set pieces. Coaches Melanie Day and Jena Barber were running through final rehearsal with the cast. Then came the announcement that school would close for two weeks due to coronavirus concerns. But as the serious nature of the pandemic became clear, two weeks turned to six followed by the cancelation of the entire remaining school year.

Melanie Day contacted her friend Jeffrey Scott Parsons, an alumnus of BEHS and musical theatre professional living in LA. Day and Parsons agreed upon a six-week collaboration that would personalize the musical theatre art form and create something to act as a consolation for the difficult and dedicated work the students had put in but would not get to perform in the regional competition.

Parsons began the project by inviting the students to journal their feelings and experiences using musical theatre songs. Upon submission of their thoughts and accompanying songs, two things quickly emerged - (1) the students were dealing with various degrees of anxiety about their futures, and (2) they were craving social interaction. Using their journal playlists as a guide, Parsons created the story for an original musical. In the face of technological and social distancing limitations, this new project held the promise of being both consoling and inspiring. Coronials follows the lives of several high school students dealing with the very circumstances the young people had been living while using songs from such musicals as Dear Evan Hansen, The Secret Garden, Mean Girls, and Bye Bye Birdie.

The students then signed up as writers, performers, editors, designers, and stage managers. Over the next four weeks, Parsons and the students wrote, performed, filmed, and edited this 40-minute original musical. Parsons provided a place for the students to share their stories, using theatre to encourage hope and promote self-discovery. Countless hours and Zoom meetings later, Coronials premiered online May 30 as an honest, funny, and inspiring look at life in the time of coronavirus. Under the leadership of Day, Barber, and Parsons, Coronials shows how the next generation can share its light with a world desperately in need.

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