Andrew Gaines isn’t going to allow a little thing like a pandemic stop him from organizing GHC’s annual spring musical.
“We had to think through what would be the safest, most enjoyable and most achievable way to continue to have a musical,” said Gaines, who heads the drama department at Grays Harbor College.
The result will be “Songs for Another Day: A Virtual Musical Revue.”
Gaines has secured the rights for several Broadway solos and duets that highlight love, loss and hope. For each one, he’s planning to direct a video performance.
“We could do one song with 40 or 50 people, or we could do seven songs with just 10 people,” he said. “This is more achievable because we have less people to coordinate.”
Zoom auditions are set for Dec. 21, with the final production to be shown online March 12. The 10 roles are open to any member of the Grays Harbor community — not just GHC students.
Each performer chosen will practice their vocals at home using a piano track to be provided. Once they learn their parts, they’ll record their voices over a professionally engineered “backing track.” Then, they will practice their physical performance lip-syncing to the completed soundtrack.
Some segments will be set within the performers’ homes. For example, Gaines envisions “Empty Chairs at Empty Tables” (from “Les Misérables”) taking place around the singer’s dining table. Others might use a green screen, and at least one might be done in a public place: He’d like to shoot “Beautiful City” (from the “Godspell” revival) somewhere in downtown Aberdeen.
It’s not going to be an easy task, given the physical distancing restrictions imposed for COVID-19 protection. One solution is having other members of the performer’s household do the video recording.
“So when I’m casting someone to be in a song, I’m also going to make sure they understand that I might need help from a friend or family member,” he said. “And if they don’t have anyone who could do that, I still have some ideas to work around it. For example, if we’re going to work outside, I’m comfortable doing that.”
He’s been impressed by the different ways other theaters locally and nationwide have addressed these obstacles, and he hopes his “remote directing” effort will prove successful.
“I’m really proud of the team I’m working with so far to think through all of the challenges in advance to make it as fun as possible for everyone involved,” he said. His team at GHC consists of music director Bill Dyer, vocal coach and audio-visual engineer Ian Dorsch, and rehearsal pianist Alex Eddy. “It’s very streamlined,” said Gaines.
Song selection alone took several months. Once they had compiled a list of songs that fit the theme, it was another matter to secure the appropriate permissions. Gaines had to track down who owned the rights to each individual song rather than the musical productions they came from.
Rather than charging people for tickets to watch the show, GHC is seeking a local business or individual sponsor for each musical number. They’re asking $250 per song.
Gaines noted that opportunities also are available for students and community members to contribute their talents in other ways for this production.
“They should contact me to find ways to get involved,” he said. “Whether it’s costumes or coordination or helping with video, there are lots of different ways people can pitch in.”
The Bishop Center will stream the compilation of recordings free March 12 via Facebook Live. Some Broadway overtures performed by members of the Grays Harbor Symphony will be interspersed with the videos. At the end, Gaines will conduct a live Q&A between the listening audience and the performers.
The show will remain available for viewing for 48 hours after that.
“I’m delighted that we still have the opportunity to create art in such a difficult time,” he said. “The feedback I’m getting from folks is a lot of excitement and gratitude that things are still happening, that we’re not just shutting down and waiting.”
Monday, Dec. 21, starting at 7 p.m.
Fill out application in advance: forms.gle/NCRo8cg9hzet7kiKA
Enter Zoom chat Dec. 21 at 7 p.m.: zoom.us/j/98498300816
Info on specific audition pieces: sites.google.com/view/songs-for-another-day
To request sheet music: Email firstname.lastname@example.org
“Beautiful City,” from “Godspell” revival — any gender, 16+
“Empty Chairs at Empty Tables,” from “Les Misérables” — any gender, 21+
“It Only Takes a Moment,” from “Hello Dolly!” — duet for an adult couple
“Mr. Cellophane,” from “Chicago” — male, 21+
“Not While I’m Around,” from “Sweeney Todd” — duet for female, 30+, and a child under 16
“Somewhere That’s Green,” from “Little Shop of Horrors” — female, 18+
“Try to Remember,” from “The Fantasticks” — male, 18+