Cast members performing
Theatre and Dance News

Students Thrive Through Virtual Performance

This academic year was an experience to remember and the students of Theatre and Dance came together to create something entirely new: the Virtual Festival.

Posted in: Announcements

Over the past fifteen months, students’ lives have changed in countless ways… In areas of learning, creating, and performing, our students were challenged more than anyone could have imagined—and they rose to the occasion.

With the brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic behind us, our thoughts are on its harder-to-predict impact and the lingering effects on society as a whole. While the students in the Department of Theatre and Dance were also managing dramatic changes, there was something familiar echoing through the auditorium, backstage, and over Zoom: The Show Must Go On.

Here are some of their thoughts.

“I was finally able to perform the roles I had been spending my years at MSU working up to. I’m now at the end of my Montclair State experience and this semester allowed me to experience what I came to college to experience.” – Louise Ehlers, Television and Digital Media

“This semester, I directed my first virtual production with FAST and my SM and I were having difficulties with software we were working with (OBS). I considered moving the show date because it was so stressful, but I realized this is what theatre is all about: trial and error. We watched a lot of videos and created our recorded production that came out beautiful! I am so proud of the work my actors, team and myself created and implore every theatre artist to try their hand at virtual theatre!” – Melody Appel, Theatre Studies

“With our production of Brigadoon, the final capture almost didn’t even happen. We were devastated after two months of hard work and dedication that we wouldn’t get to film. A special moment for me (and I would say the whole cast) was the moment we got the email that the production was back on, as well as the moment that night that we gathered as cast and crew to reflect on all that we had been through. Almost losing the show gave us the energy and special spark to film a final capture with more spirit than ever.” – Richie Cardile, Music (Vocal Performance)

Working, A Musical, filmed on site at Montclair State

“Taking every class that I could — I realized how lucky I was to actually be able to *go* to school and take class with my peers in a studio (if only for half the time I would have been doing that pre-pandemic). This was a massive motivator in getting me to class and taking advantage of all that was offered to me here.” -Sarah Kramer, Dance

“I’ve had to work on my dance films throughout the year and although challenging at first as I’ve never worked on film before with dance specifically, in the end it turned out for the best. I’m a film minor and enjoy creating, recording and editing a lot so I got to bring all of my passions together to create something wonderful! It was pretty exciting.” – Jonathan Najera, Dance

“Just being able to perform in person with a cast of great and talented people made me way more comfortable in my performance. Even with masks and some Zoom rehearsals, it all still came together to make such a memorable experience.” – Francesca DiPisa, Communication and Media Arts

“I came onto Titanic an entire year after it was supposed to happen. It was so wonderful to see this sense of camaraderie and genuine love that the cast and creative team had for each other a whole year later, after all of the hardship and uncertainty that Titanic had faced. I think it was surprising to me to see how easily and quickly the team and company pulled me into their circle and showered me with as much love as they have been giving each other. Titanic definitely seemed impossible at the beginning. I was worried that going from what was supposed to be this massive production with all of these crazy sets and costumes and lighting and this huge orchestra to this super scaled back production with just scaffolding, a six piece orchestra, and our company was going to be difficult. However, our company is magical, and they worked hard to make it happen. They’ve done such an incredible job, way better than we ever could have dreamed.” – Johanna Baronowitz, Stage Manager Titanic

“This school year I’ve had the opportunity to be the Production Stage Manager on two shows, We Are Proud and ‘TASHA. The only difference with this school year is that these shows were done in a zoom format rather than in person. One of the things I love about theatre is the connection we get in person and imagining the world that we can build. Although doing a show on zoom wasn’t ideal, one of the most surprising things is that I definitely got to know my cast members and everyone within the zoom better than I would if we were in person. By placing us in these little virtual boxes it helped build that sense of community which allowed everyone to be present in conversations in getting to know one another especially since we’re seeing directly into one another’s personal spaces. Also coming into this I thought that the cast might not be on board with a virtual show but they all came in such high spirits and were ready to get back to work!” -Kyra Michaels, PSM TASHA / WE ARE PROUD

Reserve your tickets for the Virtual Festival Learn more about the programs at the Department of Theatre and Dance