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News and Notes

Living the Theatre Life: March Update

An update from Lily Schwartz:

Hello friends!           Firstly, I hope you’re having a restful and peaceful time of “social distancing,” and continue to pray that the Lord will deliver us from this virus. Secondly, and quite honestly, this month has gone nothing like I had imagined that it would’ve gone. But I am safe, I am healthy, I have a roof over my head, food to eat, and an amazing host family and real family supporting me.           The final week of dress rehearsals were so much fun. We got to do lots of Understudy and Back Up rotations, which means that the understudies and back ups for characters get to do whole shows in that role. I actually got a few back up rotations as Parade Soloist. I know all three parts of a female trio that lead the parade vocally and in the two first days of tech week I got to go in for all three. It is way more difficult than I thought to be able to sing multiple harmony parts in the same song in the same day.  I also got to swing in for Coronation Guest! Which is very simple choreography, but it adds another whole quick change to my track, so I am glad that I got to try it before we opened.           Animal integration was also the first few days of tech week. These days were a huge blessing for the cast. In the show we have REAL camels, donkeys, parrots, horses, goats, alpacas, mini horses, doves, dogs.. I think that’s all of them. For animal integration, they put the animals in the scenes with us on stage for the first time. The stage manager will tell us if we’re starting at 25% or 50% and we try to keep our volume and movement at that percent for the whole song or scene, and lighting and sound does the same. This helps the animals get acclimated to the scene slowly, so that they don’t spook. If they do well at the first percentage, then we’ll go to 75%, and try that. If they have a negative experience, we’ll go back to 50%, but keep the sound at 75% … you get my point. We would only run the scenes with animals in them and we would designate 2 – 2 ½ hour blocks for one scene or song. This was good for the cast because we didn’t have to be at 100% much at all. These days were very restful. The only negative of these days was being in the baby elephant suit, which meant the baby elephant was needed for 2 hours. We tried to do 15 minute shifts with all the baby elephants but it’s really hard to be in the suit for even more than 5 minutes because it’s so heavy and cumbersome. I got my workout this day, ha ha!           Wednesday for the first run we had Lancaster Bible College’s Choral group watch, and for the second run the front of house department watched, which was really helpful for us. You never know how the show will read until you have an audience.           Finally, Thursday March 12th arrived, it was friends and family premiere. We had our final run, and then we had what they call Corporate Prayer. This was one of the coolest experiences I have ever had. The whole company comes together and prays for the show and dedicates the upcoming year to the Lord. It was so surreal for me to be there in that moment. I am so blessed to be a part of this program. Sadly, right after this they called us all into the auditorium to tell us the news that the governor had banned gatherings of over 500 people in the county next to us and that we were soon probably going to have to do the same. They informed us that we would have friends and family premiere, VIP premiere, and then we would close the show until the government deemed it safe to open again. This was such devastating news for the whole company and thousands of people who had been looking forward to seeing this show for over a year now. Our hearts were heavy, but we knew that this was the right decision.           Friends and Family premiere was beyond glamourous. The hors devours, the lobby, the lights, it was amazing. My mom, sisters, and aunt were all able to come down to see it and it was so much fun and so great to have such a great audience.           VIP Night was just as fun! The leads were interviewed, and a couple hosts came in and shot footage from our cast meeting, which was super great. The crowd was a little smaller this night, but it consisted of news reporters, magazine editors, reviewers and such. The show went so smoothly. This was the morning that they shot a “Unfiltered” version of the song “Three Days” from the show to encourage our audiences and all those who were living in fear because of COVID 19. Here’s the Facebook link to that video.  This was such a cool thing to be a part of, and I’m so glad we could give back a little of what was lost.           This whole weekend was full of disappointment, not just that we couldn’t open the show, but that we couldn’t have classes as originally planned, when they cut the number of groups down to 10. It was on March 17th that I decided to go home for a week and a half. Our reopen date was set for March 31st,  so I figured I’d surprise my boyfriend Daniel, and spend some time with my family while we wait for the show to open.           I’d like to say that it ended here, but it ended here but it didn’t. It seemed like almost every day I got another email pushing the date out further. April 18th, then May 1st, then May 16th. As of today, 4/5/20, the plan is for us to start rehearsing again the beginning of May to be ready to reopen May 16th. But we all know this may or may not be what happens in all actuality.           I’m beyond grateful that this week started the first ever online S&S conservatory class. We are having approximately 9 classes a week, using Microsoft Teams. Some classes are easier than others to do online, Discipleship and Acting being easier, and Dance being hardest. We’re having virtual voice lessons, sight singing, voice and speech, it’s truly been crazy figuring out what we can and can’t do online. The only classes we’re not doing online are ballet and improvisation, where being in the moment is really quite necessary. So, I’ve been learning songs, memorizing monologues, tapping in my winter boots, and praying. Finding joy and peace in this time has proved to be very challenging, but God has totally got this.           Being home has felt super normal but super different in many ways, but I’m doing okay. Daniel has been here with me every step of the way and I’m so grateful that he can be here with me through this. So, living off a week’s worth of clothes for 5 weeks is going to feel challenging, and having no dance shoes, and having left some of my homework in PA is also hard but I am finding peace in the hurricane of crazy going on around me. I envy your prayers. My dear friend and roommate Alba who is a foreign exchange student from Spain had to go home early cause of the virus and I miss her so much already. <3            You can still buy tickets to see Queen Esther! I hear there’s still plenty of tickets in August and September. Also! The show from last year, Jesus, will be streaming FOR FREE, yes you heard me, on TBN. The app, the Tv program, all that next weekend for Easter! Woo hoo! You can learn more about that here:

Until next time, friends! Have a safe and peaceful April.