students virtually pick spring musical


Donovan WilsonReporter

The theater program hosted an event to pick out the musical next semester, to encourage students to have their voices heard.

“Last year we started these conversations with getting students involved in selecting the musical,” said Michael Skinner, Chairperson of the theater department.

Usually the theater department puts out a student ballot for those interested in the upcoming musical. However, last year they decided to start having larger conversations to better hear students’ voices.

A lot of the conversation going into this year revolves around how COVID-19 has changed the world. There is talk going into what would be feasible nowadays or what’s even possible; such as virtual performances, and live performances with social distancing.

For instance, “Footloose” was originally selected for this year, but because of all the hands on interactions between cast it was deemed impossible in the COVID-19 landscape. one of the musicals being thrown around is “Songs For A New World” due to its themes and smaller cast.

“If the students were behind it, I was behind it” said Larry Nye, an associate professor in the theater department.

The process involves students throwing in any title they wish to do but there are many factors that then go into selecting which musical actually gets selected. Budget plays a big role which is normally adaptable. The licensing budget, is usually less adaptable.

The budget usually falls between three and $4,000 and some more popular musicals will cost around $20,000 for licensing.

An element that also plays into licensing is how close the university is to New York City due to a rule of being 100 miles away. Licensing rules could also effect when to begin advertising a musical and that plays a role in choosing the musical.

“We try very hard to keep acting equitable,” said Jill Brunelle, an adjunct faculty member in the theater department.

A part of the process is also casting in all facets, not just performing. It comes down to who’s available for singing, instrumentation, design and how that fits into the budget.

The budget typically sits somewhere between 25 and $28,000 as a grand total at the end.

However, besides all the restrictions, the meeting had involved students desperately throwing out different ideas.

Some of the titles that were being thrown around included “Shrek,” “Hello Dolly” and “Anastasia” which was released back in 2016. they love to do that is to constantly gain ideas from students who are in tune with the ever changing field of musical theater.

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