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Musical Theater in the Age of COVID-19

Musical theater is full of drama, love, tragedy and more! It is all communicated metaphorically and sometimes directly through song and dance to the audience. That being said, what can musical theater lovers do when their audience is cut in half, or worse, stripped away entirely? My roommate Amelia Riches serves as Co-President of one of the many musical theater groups on Florida State University’s campus. This one uniquely acts as a club for Honors Experience students. They recently hosted a socially distanced Cabaret show and Amelia will go into greater detail about the mechanics and responsibility of that decision.

Her Campus (HC): Hi! So, can you tell me a little about yourself, your major and why you chose to be a part of HEPlayers?

Amelia Riches (AR): Hello! I’m Amelia Riches, I’m from Sunrise, Florida and I’m a sophomore at FSU. I’m a double major in Psychology and Communication Science and Disorders. I got involved with HEPlayers because I took a class with my faculty advisor Dr. Quinn when the club was first formed. I have always done theater and dance, so I was excited to be part of a club like that on campus open to non-theater majors.


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HC: Okay, that’s awesome! How do you think your experience with theater in the past differs or is the same to your experience with HEPlayers?

AR: Most of the theater I’ve done in the past was directed toward students with experience in musical theater. HEPlayers is different because we are open to every Honors Experience student, even those with no experience at all in musical theater. As Co-President, it’s helped me having experience so that I can lead rehearsals and help the other members.

HC: That makes sense. So, I know that this past show you put on was socially distanced, can you go into detail about what exactly that entailed?

AR: All of the rehearsals were held via Zoom and each member recorded their portion of the Cabaret individually at home and submitted their videos to our tech team. They then compiled them into one big video which we streamed during a virtual Zoom viewing for all the members and anyone they wanted to invite. The only time anyone met in person for the show was when I met with another member, Andrew Brasington, to do choreography, which is difficult to do over Zoom. We were both comfortable with meeting, as well as staying six feet apart and wearing masks the whole time. We used this meet-up to make the choreography for the show, then taught the rest of the members via Zoom.


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HC: It’s impressive that you guys figured out such a safe way to collaborate on this project, especially during COVID-19! Was there any doubt or mixed feelings about performing and creating this show under such stressful conditions?

AR: This cabaret was initially supposed to be at the end of spring 2020 and had already been rehearsing for weeks before being sent home. So unfortunately, we couldn’t start the club up again fall 2020 when everyone was more comfortable with Zoom. We still had many challenges with creating and performing the show online and ended up pushing it from fall 2020 to the very beginning of spring 2021. We also had many members that were supposed to perform in the original Cabaret who opted out of this Cabaret due to school stress and feeling uncomfortable performing online. This is definitely not the Cabaret we originally hoped for but I’m glad we were able to produce something that showcased our members’ talent and hard work.

HC: Luckily, I was able to attend this Cabaret via Zoom with you, and I got to see how genuinely talented and perseverant you guys are with this show! I’m glad you were finally able to see this through and thank you so much for your responses!

AR: I agree, and it was my pleasure!

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Sienna Aitken is a senior Psychology and Criminology major at Florida State University
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