The Show Must Go On...Virtually
In response to the COVID-19 virus, on March 13th, the Newington Children’s Theatre Company, CT’s longest running nonprofit children’s theatre, suspended all activity at their facility until further notice. This meant canceling their second school-year musical, You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown, two weeks before it was scheduled to open. Executive/Artistic Director Claire Van Cott said how difficult it was to share the news of the cancelation with the cast and crew, knowing how hard they’ve worked, but added, “it was the right decision to make.” The decision to cancel came right after the Center for Disease Control recommended limiting gatherings of more than 100. "The kids were so disappointed to hear that their upcoming production was getting postponed indefinitely,” said Craig Condon, parent of a cast member. “I felt really sad but at least I knew we would do it someday,” cast member, Audrey DeFrancesco added.
In addition to the musical, NCTC suspended all auditions, rehearsals, classes, one-act performances and canceled their annual fundraising gala, which was scheduled to be held at Indian Hill Country Club at the end of the month.
NCTC director, Justin Guglielmetti shared, “I can’t imagine what these kids are going through right now. Being stuck at home, missing out on seeing friends, or doing any of their extracurriculars- I’m sure it has been very hard for kids to truly grasp.” NCTC saw an opportunity to help provide a sense of routine and normalcy amidst the chaos. They created a variety of virtual events to help engage kids in creative activities while giving them a platform to express themselves.
The first of these virtual offerings is NCTC’s 60-Second Star, their first virtual talent show. Thirty-seven kids, ages 6-16, from thirteen different towns submitted 60 second videos of their talent. Over the next two weeks, voting will take place over social media. "I think it’s nice how they are doing these online things like the talent show because it gives us a chance to stay in touch and keep ourselves active," said cast member, Parker Condon. In the coming weeks, NCTC will launch more events/activities like a Closet Costume Contest, Scene One Play Readers Crew, and a virtual one-act performance.
Shows that were currently in production will shift to weekly online rehearsals. Guglielmetti will communicate his direction through video chat. “Although adapting to online directing will be difficult at first, it’ll be great to get the kids involved again.” Some kids are hesitant to try online rehearsals, but most are eager to get started. “I’m looking forward to seeing my friends again and having something to do,” said cast member DeFrancesco. Guglielmetti added, “Rehearsals will really lift the kids spirits, being able to see their friends and be creative. It also helps that the shows we are working on are very light hearted and funny.”
Board member, Chris DeFrancesco, spoke about the void felt with not having rehearsals, classes and regular interactions with theatre friends. He added, “We're so fortunate that our staff has come up with ways to keep kids and families engaged, enabling our young performers to continue to explore their creativity and share their talent while we all wait this out together.”
For more information, about NCTC any any of their offerings, please visit www.NCTCArts.org .