It's not too late to catch this year's joint high school production, "On Broadway." Adapting to pandemic restrictions, Amador Valley and Foothill combined their students' talents to produce a movie of the musical revue that remains available on YouTube.
"We had a directing team of seven people," Amador music teacher Mark Aubel said. "We got together and decided what songs to do."
Amador drama teacher Lynn Kirksey pieced together a story to loosely unite the Broadway tunes after an aspiring performer named Rebecca takes refuge from a storm in an old theater. A series of show scenes unfolds, including from "Les Miserables," "Dear Evan Hansen" and "Shrek the Musical."
Work began in January for the 19 students in the cast and 17 in the orchestra. Musicians and singers recorded the audio at their homes, then the orchestra and vocal recordings were edited and combined.
When the cast finally gathered on set, they lip-synced to the audio track, removing their masks only for the final filming.
"It was a challenge following all the protocols," Kirksey said, "but we did this safely and are very proud of the outcome."
"This was the first time it's ever been done here. We've never made a movie," Aubel said. "They still wanted to do a musical, and they were 100% for it."
Auditions for the show were submitted by video.
"We had to sing one minute of a song, and also do a dance," said Leila Brown, a junior at Amador who landed the part of Rebecca.
"I was so excited, and also very shocked because it was my first time doing a school musical," she recalled.
Brown has been in community productions through the city and Bay Area Children's Theater since the third grade, she said. She has participated in choir and the drama club in high school.
"When they said we were doing a movie, I was a little skeptical: How's that going to work?" she remembered. "I was very pleasantly surprised. It turned out to be literally a movie."
"The whole experience was surreal," Brown added, "because after not doing theater for a year I was feeling a little down and stressed out, not doing the things that made me happy. But we had virtual rehearsals and that brought back to me how much I loved theater."
"On Broadway" premiered March 26 on YouTube with a livestream, and audience members could make comments, which are still visible, enhancing the viewing experience.
Opening night was special even though the performers were still mostly sheltering in place.
"I had a premier party at my house with just my immediate family," Brown said. "I put up decorations, popped some popcorn and made little tickets."
Each year the two high schools join their talents in the spring to produce a musical at the Amador Theater.
Last year the production, "All Shook Up," was ready for opening night, including $10,000 paid for the rights. Sets, costumes and props cost another $4,000.
Then COVID-19 hit. The show went on for just one performance, and the only audience was stuffed animals placed in seats here and there throughout the theater.
"We're hoping to do a full musical next year," Aubel said.
Each year's production depends on money raised by the previous performance, which last year was minimal. To make a donation toward a full musical production next year, visit pusdedu.info/musicaldonation.
But first enjoy this year's production, "On Broadway," on YouTube.com. Search for "Amador Foothill On Broadway."