RWU theatre wraps up 2020-2021 season with a filmed tribute to movie musicals

Emma Bartlett, Arts and Culture Editor

Many students are used to viewing theatre productions in RWU’s Performing Arts Center, The Barn, which is why their last show of the semester is shaking things up by filming musical numbers across campus and homes. “You Can’t Stop the Beat: A Filmed Tribute to Movie Musicals” consists of an eight-person cast whose songs were professionally recorded and compiled into a film that students and parents could view on Vimeo.

The virtual event debuted on April 23 and highlighted songs from numerous movie musicals. Students received a list of songs to choose from for the performance. With a total of nine numbers, selections included “Singing in the Rain,” “The Way He Makes Me Feel,” “One Day I’ll Fly Away” and more.

Gillian Snyder, a junior theatre major who has been in a variety of shows since her freshman year, sang “Don’t Rain on My Parade” for her audition and used it to close the performance.

“That was a song that I have always loved and it’s a song I’ve always wanted to perform on stage. While it couldn’t be in person, I’m very glad that I had the opportunity to share my take on the song with an audience,” Snyder said.

With creative costumes and dance moves, each musical number held anticipation for what would pop on screen next. In “Good Morning Baltimore,” freshman Alexis Dascher dressed as Tracy Turnblad from “Hairspray” and started her song by singing in bed before eventually walking down the street like she was on her way to school, similar to the character in the original number.

Meanwhile, fun camera tricks were implemented in the show to reveal instantaneous costume changes, such as in Gigi Robertiello’s rendition of “Hold Me Tight” where Robertiello, a junior, suddenly switched from wearing a flapper dress to a retro 1950s dress. It was evident that each singer brought their own inventiveness to their performances, which added to the audience’s enjoyment.

Various locations were utilized as settings, including the beach, shell path, dance studio, parking lot and in front a bathroom mirror. “Singing in the Rain” was the only duet in the film, which made preparing for the show different than past performances where actors and actresses were more reliant on their cast members.

“Rehearsals were very interesting because none of us really rehearsed together, but that made our rehearsal process very individualized and it also allowed us to focus more specifically on our own songs, instead of being concerned about the entirety of the finished product,” Snyder said.

After spending two months prepping songs and preparing for filming, the show offers a new type of entertainment for both singers and viewers.

“It was definitely a really unique experience and I’m honestly just so grateful that RWU was able to put on a musical in the time of COVID. It was a bit of a learning process for everyone involved, but once we all figured it out, it started to come together. I’m really happy with the way it came out in the end,” Snyder said.

The remaining dates to view “You Can’t Stop the Beat: A Filmed Tribute to Movie Musicals” are April 28, 30 and May 1. The half-hour performances can be accessed through vimeo.com/rwutheatre and can be viewed at 7:30 p.m. each day.