Online cast interviews, performances help Broadway Rose cope with COVID-19
For Dan Murphy, the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic became a reality in March as Broadway Rose Theatre Co. prepared for a production of "Ain't Misbehavin."
"The set was built and the costumes were half-sewn and the wigs were done, and then we sent everybody home," Murphy, co-owner and founder of Broadway Rose, recalled. We salvaged everything in hopes of remounting it at some point. When that will happen, I don't know."
What that has meant is that is that the theater company has only produced a single show this season, "Up and Away," which ran in January and February.
Murphy said up to that point, Broadway Rose was having a great year, gearing up for the eventual expansion of the theater when everything stopped.
"And now we haven't sold a ticket in five months," he lamented.
Still, Murphy counts himself lucky that the theater was able to host its annual gala, which was held March 7. The 1980s-inspired event raised $100,000 for the theater.
And while plans to produce "Crazy for You" as well as "The Wedding Singer" for its summer productions are on hold — those productions normally draw large crowds to the Deb Fennell Auditorium at Tigard High School — Murphy is looking to the positive activities that have kept the theater company busy during the pandemic.
That includes starting summer acting classes for teens.
"We emptied the whole stage out and we drew circles on the stage, six-foot diameter, three feet apart from each other, and everybody stays within their space, and that's how we've been conducting classes," said Murphy.
Although the classes can only have 10 people in them, they have proved to be a summer hit.
Something else that has taken off is the "Midday Cabaret," held each Wednesday. It's an involved online production that Murphy says feels like producing a weekly television show. It features Broadway Rose alumni, showcasing their talents even though no one is currently onstage.
"They perform a couple of songs on the shows, and then we go on to next week, but the marketing department puts together all of the visuals, the pictures, the videos, and then they have to create ... the credits at the end," said Murphy.
Murphy conducts the interviews himself alone in the theater.
To date, they've contacted actors and actresses spread across the country from North Carolina to New York City to Denver to Nashville.
"For me, it's actually been a lot of fun," said Murphy.
This week's performance features Antonía Darlene, who was in the previous production of Broadway Rose's "Beehive," which "blew off the roof off the theater" with her singing, Murphy said.
"She is coming to us live from Gresham," he said.
The 1 p.m. live Wednesday's shows are then put up online at the Broadway Rose website. Murphy said they've also been able to do a "Meet the Staff" video series and have also hosted online cast reunions.
Next, Murphy is looking forward to once again having live shows and the theater has undergone extensive safety protocols to make sure both staff and theater-goers are safe.
"The next performance is not until Oct. 1. Who knows — if you can't look a week ahead, you try to look a day ahead — but there's certain things we're putting into place now," he said. "I'm looking forward to human contact."
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