My Hope for the Theatre in 2021

It’s become clear during the pandemic that the performing arts have made a significant pivot financially and creatively. We’ve seen far more access to the arts virtually, but as we’ve seen shows closing in NY, money is tight. I can’t wait for the day when we can all gather back safely together in a theatre and hear a robust overture. Thinking about the future of theatre and the performing arts industry is crucial now more than ever because we have the time and space to step back and ask ourselves: who do we want to be as artists and how can we make a difference with our art?

There are so many virtual productions and shows on Netflix that have come out that I really feel have made an impact in the world since the pandemic, for a multitude of reasons. One of the first virtual productions I watched during the pandemic was the Sondheim Birthday Concert back in April. While nothing could beat seeing everyone in person, there was something so familiar about hearing the overture and everyone’s interpretations of Sondheim’s music. It goes to show how open we can be towards ourselves as artists and increase our capacity to be creative. Doing virtual productions actually improves our artistry (in my experience), by forcing us to listen to other recordings if we’re filming duets/trios, and expanding our capabilities of creativity in audio, video, photography, video editing and more!

Another virtual production I watched that was really heart warming was Jingle Jangle. This is a story about a toy inventor who loses his ability to believe in the magic of his inventions, until his granddaughter, Journey comes to visit. The amount of talent I saw in this movie, including Anika Noni Rose and the lead character, Journey, played by Madalen Mills (who also happened to be in School of Rock, the musical), was incredible. I can’t say enough about how much I loved the music, the dancing and acting. It was great to see an original movie musical come to the screen that I’m sure will come to the stage very soon. The biggest impact I saw with this movie was how the majority of the lead characters were people of color. I’m hoping that there are young boys and girls out there who are BIPOC who are inspired to pursue theatre, seeing themselves represented on stage and the screen. There are multiple films that have come out on Netflix with BIPOC representation, including Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, a play by August Wilson, with the late Chadwick Boseman and Viola Davis and The Hot Chocolate Nutcracker on Disney Plus!

If you’ve already watched Jingle Jangle and want to watch more, there is a Youtube singalong I will link below with commentary by people from the cast and Broadway performers!

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