BWW Blog: To The Jungle And Beyond!
Each year at DeSales University, the class of graduating seniors has the incredibly unique opportunity of taking on, first-hand, the task of uniting as their own theatre company to produce a children's show, building everything from the ground up. Nearly a year ago, my class started to gather (sometimes at unmentionable hours) to choose our show, as well as vote on which members of our class would make up the fabulous production team. For our capstone project, we, rather unanimously, landed on The Jungle Book, and the planning began! Our remarkably talented director, designers, cast and creative team all worked their magic, and after many weeks of tireless rehearsals and work session- our show was ready to head into tech during the tail end of our spring break! Unfortunately, as we got on our feet to tech the show and move into dress, our world drastically shifted.
Overnight, we went from being senior theatre majors ready to share what we had spent almost a year creating with the youth of our community, to having no audience at all. We were told that our show would not get to open; however, we had one day left of tech before we would be sent home for the remainder of the semester. It is truly astonishing how much a group of determined individuals can achieve when they put their heads together. In two days of tech, we accomplished what we had projected to do in about five days! The show was fully teched by the end of our first day, and the next day, our company banded together to put on a full dress run for some of the theatre faculty that were left in the building that day. While we knew that it would most likely be the one and only opportunity we would get to put the show on its feet in all of its glory, I know we were all incredibly grateful to get to perform what we had crafted in any way, shape, or form. Fortunately for us, we were also able to have that final dress recorded for archival purposes. Our show and the unexpected route it took will forever be immortalized for us and for future classes to view and enjoy.
Although the global pandemic brought with it the cancellation of all our performance opportunities for the remainder of the year, my senior classmates stopped at nothing to share our art with the world. Our musical director and company member, Cathy Ritter, took to social media to share her original music and photos of our finished set as part of Laura Benanti's "Sunshine Songs" platform. The video and picture that she shared were viewed by nearly 60,000 people, a much wider audience than we ever could have hoped to reach in Center Valley, PA!
The message that our company had hoped to share with audiences was that, much like the animals of the jungle, we all may look different, but we are all one. Cathy's original lyrics read, "We look different, but our hearts are the same. Let this message ring,." This message has proved to be more prevalent now than ever.