Napa Valley College Performing Arts ventures where few other North Bay theatres are willing to go with their one-night-only virtual production of the classic Broadway musical A Chorus Line. The Tony and Pulitzer Prize-winning concept musical captures the spirit and tension of a Broadway chorus audition by exploring the inner lives and bittersweet ambitions of professional Broadway performers.
Napa Valley College’s re-imagined production of A Chorus Line focuses on a group of actors and dancers auditioning for a show during the COVID-19 global pandemic – virtually – and features such numbers as “What I Did for Love, “One,” “I Can Do That,” “At the Ballet,” “The Music and the Mirror,” and “I Hope I Get It”.
The production is co-directed by Jennifer King, NVC Theater Arts professor and artistic director, and Olivia Cowell, NVC Theater Arts adjunct instructor. It features musical direction by Dr. Christina Howell, NVC Music Department instructor and digital direction by Kevin Kemp from The Streaming Theatre.
“During these unparalleled times theater has shifted in such a wondrous way. In order for any art form to survive and thrive amidst hard times, adaptation, imagination and ingenuity are needed,” said co-director, Olivia Cowell. “Every level of the production team, cast and crew for A Chorus Line has risen to the challenges that producing an online musical brings.”
Akin to theaters across the nation and world, virtual theater has afforded a new skill set to Napa Valley College students that wasn’t part of the learning curriculum before. Crash courses were given in film acting and virtual staging with co-directors Jennifer King and Olivia Cowell, learning the vocals remotely with musical director Dr. Christina Howell and navigating the necessary technology with digital director Kevin Kemp and NVC technical director Matthew Cowell.
“This is a monumental task. Musicals are complicated as they are – adding Zoom made this a deeply creative experience,” said co-director Jennifer King. “It is the first musical that the NVC Head of Vocal Studies Christina Howell has music directed for Napa Valley College. We could not ask for a better collaborator. Working in tandem with our technical director Matthew Cowell, they overcame the obstacles that come with singing virtually.”
The cast includes NVC students, alumni and community members, with Jessica Romero as Zach, Toni Chiapetta as Lori, Pilar Gonzales as Judy, Martina Sanchez as Diana, Jennifer Deterville as Kristine, Emma Sutherland as Val, Alana Diaz as Sheila, Felizia Rubio as Connie, Robin Leino as Bebe, Josie Goldfarb as Maggie, Erin Smith as Cassie, Bonnie Cullen as Don/Dawn, Jonathen Blue as Richie, Sterling Schwarz as Mark, Reid Ivanoff as Mike, Nathan Stokes as Greg, Michael Rupprecht as Al, Jonathen Blue as Bobby, Phil Ferrero as Paul, Ellen Beller as Tricia and Cierra Olivarez as Vicki.
“This cast and crew supported each other every step of the rehearsal and performance process,” said Cowell. “We watched them grow and adapt in ways we didn’t know were possible before virtual theater became an option. I am astounded how they are able to build an ensemble with one another in a virtual setting. It can be very isolating to act alone in your house to a computer screen. This group of individual actors become an ensemble, by working together and allowing themselves to be vulnerable as actors. This has created a piece of virtual theater that is filled with heartfelt performances.”
The production is available to view one night only, on Friday, April 9, 2021 at 7 p.m. Admission is pay what you can. To learn more and watch the production, go to PerformingArtsNapaValley.org.