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WATCH: Mount Baker students create online musical theatre project

Their production of ‘Oklahoma!’ was cancelled due to COVID-19

Wild Theatre drama students at Mount Baker Secondary School in Cranbrook have created an online music video after their spring production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s ‘Oklahoma!’ was cancelled due to COVID-19. Theatres and schools across the globe were forced to shut down, leaving students without the chance to perform with their peers.

The students wanted to have something to share despite the pandemic, so they set out to create a musical theatre piece to ‘Footloose’. The music video depicts students getting ready for and attending prom; something that many of them won’t be able to do this year.

Noah Smith is a student in Grade 11 at Mount Baker Secondary. He was responsible for filming and editing the ‘Footloose’ music video. He started video editing in a class with their drama teacher, Mary Hamilton, last year, where he learned the basics of editing. He was then inspired to become part of the drama club and was set to be the Stage Manager for ‘Oklahoma!’ until the production was shut down.

He explained that the music video was a tough process that took weeks to complete, but in the end everyone was so happy to come together and create something that shows off all of the students’ various talents.

“We were obviously bummed that we couldn’t continue with that production, and we still wanted to show off what we’ve got,” Smith said. “It was definitely a struggle trying to film everyone [while being] socially distant, and making it look like a normal post-pandemic music video.”

He said just like the plays and musicals that he’s been a part of, the process of making the music video was a fun opportunity.

“Making a music video, especially during a pandemic, was a great learning experience. Editing took a while and it came with a lot of challenges,” said Smith. “We started rehearsals at home, and we have a dance choreographer that helps with our productions so she sent videos of the choreography to everyone for them to practice. Mrs. Hamilton and I discussed how we could make the filming look cohesive with so many different pats, and made a screenplay that showed the story we had in mind. We filmed the first part of the video at home, with most students filming themselves on their iPhones. Then we were able to create a few different sets and scenes and we filmed all of the main components at the school and edited it together.”

He explained that students lip-synced during filming, and then each vocal and instrumental part was recorded and edited to fit with the video footage.

“It was a process, but we were just happy to create something together,” Smith said, adding that his favourite part was being able to reunite with his peers. “It was so great to see everyone again. We were happy to get together and create something, it was a fun project, but I really missed my friends. Mary and Jaqueline did a great job of composing a fun and lively music video, the first of its kind for the theatre department.”

Austin Dolan, who is also a student in Grade 11 at Mount Baker, has been an avid musician and musical theatre student for some time now. He explained that his role within the project was recording the guitar track for the instrumentals, along with recording vocals and performing in the video.

“I am an avid guitar player and I really enjoy the art of theatre. My history with theatre started with my casting as Sam in Wild Theatre’s production of ‘Mamma Mia! The Musical’,” said Dolan. “Since then, I’ve pretty much been all over theatre whether it’s trying to do acting or simply just watching videos on youtube of productions.”

He said their inspiration came from the fact that students were forced to shut down their Oklahoma! production.

“Even though with the state of the world being how it is at the moment, we wanted to keep working together as a cast and doing something in theatre to keep us engaged with each other,” Dolan said. “The main challenge as theatre students (or theatre performers in general) during the pandemic is mainly the fact that we can’t put on a live performance for people or continue rehearsing what we would have if we were able to. Another challenge is definitely the restrictions on seeing people, or at least that was the case when the pandemic first started.”

Despite the many challenges, Dolan says he too enjoyed working together with his peers again.

“I think my favourite part of recording and filming for our video was definitely the ability to interact with people in person and have a huge amount of fun with them after being cooped up inside for a month or two. It was a really nice chance to be able to see and work together with cast mates again,” he said. “I just want to thank Mrs. Hamilton for the wonderful opportunity to film our silly little video, and for being a fantastic director and teacher at Mount Baker.”

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Corey Bullock

About the Author: Corey Bullock

Corey Bullock is a multimedia journalist and writer who grew up in Burlington, Ontario.
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