The stage is where the heart is
Two Broadway fans decided to spend their time creatively during isolation, while supporting an industry they both love dearly.
Twenty-four-year-old Joel Kwartler — who grew up in Lake Oswego — and his girlfriend Julia Belanova, 25, have been quarantining with Kwartler's family since April in Lake Oswego, though they both had been living in Los Angeles prior to the governor's stay-at-home orders.
The two toyed with creative ways to occupy their time and landed on creating a parody video of Broadway showtunes, which they completed mid-May.
Kwartler cleverly rewrote portions of 19 famous Broadway tunes —19 songs for COVID-19 — including "Frozen," "Wicked," "Sweeney Todd" and "Book of Mormon." Belanova acted and sang the songs, while the two worked together to edit and create the video.
"We would try and film between two and four a night or on the weekends," Kwartler said.
And their project came with a twist.
The couple encouraged folks to donate to the Actors Fund, a national organization that supports the entertainment industry.
While they don't know how much has been donated to the fund, the couple posted the video to their social media channels. As of May 26, their Facebook video received more than 8,000 views.
"We made this in the hopes that people would enjoy it," Kwartler said.
Kwartler graduated from Lake Oswego High School in 2013 and attended Harvard University to study computer science.
But he always had an affinity for writing and comedy, and a love for Broadway.
He did theater in junior high and was on the speech and debate team in high school. He also wrote student columns for the Review.
In college, he continued to write and practice comedy as well as improv. After graduating, he moved to Los Angeles in 2018, which is where he became close with Belanova.
Belanova grew up in the Bay Area and has starred in many theater productions. She also attended Harvard and was involved with theater, dance and media. But it wasn't until they both moved to LA that they started dating.
"I've always really liked musicals," said Kwartler, adding that he attended Broadway shows in college and Belanova loved musicals as well.
The two decided that the world wasn't getting enough of Broadway since it closed down amid the pandemic.
The couple created the video utilizing different scenes and areas from where they were staying. They filmed outside Safeway in the car, near the washing machine, outside and in just about every room of their home.
"It was a lot of fun," Kwartler said. "I think it was a good way to pass the time and feel like we weren't just stuck inside."
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