PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Like many industries, the theater industry is suffering during this pandemic. Everything from Broadway shows to high school musicals have been canceled. But one Delaware Valley group has come up with an idea to lessen the blow.
Everyone is feeling the pain. Theaters along the Avenue of the Arts in Philadelphia are closed with no reopening in sight. This situation has left local thespians wondering if online platforms can help save their art.
And now, one group is preparing to test its idea this weekend.
The Witch, Jack, and Cinderella – all on one virtual stage. These actors are rehearsing the hit musical “Into the Woods.”
“This is my stage. This is exactly where I recorded all of my videos, right here,” co-creator and actor Aren Duffy said. “It’s a little bit crazy.”
Crazy, because on Saturday, this new theater group will showcase a month of hard work, streaming their performance online.
The actors never once have shared the same physical space.
“We’re so lucky we have so many wonderful friends who were so willing to jump into a full new experience like this,” co-creator and stage manager Abi Sanie said.
Sanie and Duffy are the co-creators of “QuaranTeen Theatricals.”
Stuck at home during the pandemic, the pair needed an outlet. After all, they’ve loved theater since childhood.
“Ever since then, I’ve been directing and stage managing in South Jersey,” Sanie said.
“And my wheelhouse has always been performing a little bit more. When we put our two minds together we have a really interesting perspective,” Duffy said.
“QuaranTeen Theatricals” includes more than a dozen Delaware Valley actors, ranging from 15 to 20 years old.
They rehearsed using Jitsi Meet, an app similar to Zoom.
Once perfected, the actors then individually recorded their roles, including reactions to other characters.
“None of us really came in knowing how that would look but we’re taking it day-by-day and step-by-step,” Sanie said.
The final step was editing the recorded scenes together for a seamless performance.
Still, these actors can’t wait to get back on stage together.
“It’s that energy that you miss from being with everyone in a room,” Duffy said.
In the meantime, what they’ve created while stuck in quarantine delivers the same message as their musical “Into the Woods.”
“No matter what you’re going through, you’re always going to have people on your side,” Sanie said. “We thought in these troubled times, a message like no one is alone is perfect to share with everyone.”
As soon as that streams, the group is getting to work on the next performance: Grease.