The Alberni District Secondary School (ADSS) musical theatre class is encouraging the community to “let your freak flag fly”—from the safety and comfort of your own home.
Because of COVID-19, the ADSS drama department was unable to put together a show in front of an audience this year. Instead, the musical theatre class has put together a virtual performance of Shrek the Musical Jr. that will stream online later this month. The show stars a few “veteran” drama students, as well as a few new faces.
“We were hoping to have an audience,” admitted ADSS musical theatre instructor Stephanie Hopkins. “We’ve built a really strong community in our school and there’s an expectation that there will be a show every year. We had a class vote and it was an overwhelming response to do a show.”
The musical theatre class was a “learning cohort,” so filming and production followed all the provincial COVID-19 guidelines, said Hopkins. The show has already been pre-recorded and will be streamed on Dec. 18 and 19.
The class picked Shrek the Musical Jr. because they were able to get the video recording rights, but Hopkins said the show was also chosen because it’s a well-known story.
“We want to do things that are well-known to people,” she said. “The musical is based largely on the movie, and because it’s the ‘junior’ version of the musical, it’s family-friendly. We’re all living in this crazy time right now and thought it would bring a little fun to the community.”
The musical follows the same storyline as the Oscar-winning DreamWorks Animation film Shrek, but adds music and songs, as well as a few extra details.
“If anyone’s seen the movie, they’ll enjoy it,” said Hopkins.
There were a number of complications this year due to COVID-19. The 2020-2021 school year has been split up into “quarters” (two concurrent courses each quarter of the year) instead of semesters (four concurrent courses in each half of the year), which gave the class about six weeks to put the production together from start to finish.
“For the period of time we had to put it together, it went well,” said ADSS student Richard Spencer, who was the show’s producer.
“Normally we have a pool of volunteers we draw from,” said Hopkins.
With COVID-19, these volunteers were no longer available. Instead, most of the jobs were done by students.
“We had to fill all the tech positions,” explained Spencer. “But we had to confine it to the class. It was all hands on deck to help.”
“It’s the most student-led production I’ve ever been involved in,” said Hopkins. “There were no adults back stage.”
Spencer did most of the editing for the film and said it is “pretty well finished.” There will be two streamed performances, on Dec. 18 and Dec. 19, at 7 p.m. both nights. Tickets are $20 and all proceeds will go back into the ADSS drama department for future performances.
“We rely on the audience to pay back what we put out,” explained Hopkins.
Although the filming experience was a fun one, both Hopkins and Spencer said they are looking forward to eventually going back to live shows.
“There’s nothing like live theatre,” said Hopkins. “We get the energy from the audience.”
“It would definitely be nice to go back to the live performance,” Spencer added. “But this is the closest thing we could do to a live performance. It’s still fun—still a really enjoyable show.”
Ticket purchase information can be found on the ADSS Armada Drama Facebook page or by visiting the publishing company’s partner at www.showtix4u.com. Once you purchase a ticket, you will receive a link for the performance.