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Russo Richardson Productions Presents Virtual Production of HEATHERS

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Molly Russo and Colette Richardson held auditions for HEATHERS virtually on TikTok.

Russo Richardson Productions Presents Virtual Production of HEATHERS

As COVID-19 affected industries across the globe the entire theatre community was forced to find new ways to quickly create an appealing, virtual format.

Molly Russo and Colette Richardson were students together at American Musical and Dramatic Academy (AMDA) in New York City. Despite graduating into a global pandemic, Russo and Richardson created their production company through their friendship and ability to work as a team.

The company blossomed when the team joined TikTok. On the app, they cultivated a combined following of nearly 600,000 followers on their personal accounts, and approximately 3,000 on the company account. They used their social-reach to create theatrical productions, and formed a community without ever actually meeting anyone face to face.

The team's influence spread so widely amongst their following. When Russo Richardson Productions announced that they would be holding auditions for Heathers - a full-scale virtual musical - hundreds of people auditioned on TikTok.

The entirety of the cast consists of 24 performers from four different time zones, as well as two different countries. 95% of the cast have never met up outside of a virtual setting. In unprecedented times such as these, it is only appropriate that Russo Richardson Productions has managed to create the most unprecedented form of theatre making.

Russo Richardson Productions is pioneering a form of theatre that not only sells tickets affordable and accessible to all, but performers are not required to live in a large, expensive city in order to participate. All that's needed are a smartphone and an internet connection.

Given the limitations of working remotely, there is a lot of what you would traditionally expect from a live theatre experience that we just cannot accomplish. Rather than try and approximate, we're building what I view as a form of its own. Virtual theatre is part music video, part film and part theatre. The performance style is very similar to theatre, but it is edited in a strategic way much like film and performed directly to camera intercut with ancillary shots much like a music video. The form developed on TikTok in the POV and theatre communities and we're sort of hybridizing our own version of it. - Colette Richardson, Producer

Being in this show gives me an outlet to create & grow as an artist during these times. After COVID hit, it was devastating watching the live theater world shut down. Being a part of this full scale online production makes me feel so motivated and fortunate to be working with creative and progressive individuals! It's so beautiful watching people from all across the nation come together to create this special show! - Thalia Atallah, Heather Chandler

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