Oak Harbor performers are relieved to be taking the stage safely this weekend despite a COVID-19 scare just one week before opening night of “All Together Now.”
Though one cast member received a COVID diagnosis last week, the rest of the cast and crew have since tested negative and, after some adjustments to the program, are ready to perform as scheduled. As they say in the theater business, the show must go on.
And go on it will, not only on Whidbey Island, but all over the world. “All Together Now” is an international musical revue founded by show licensing company Music Theatre International to help small theaters rebound from a pandemic-induced performance hiatus.
Composers and playwrights who normally receive royalties from theaters that put on their works have donated performances of songs from their shows, allowing schools and local theaters to perform them for free.
“The whole idea of ‘All Together Now’ is to celebrate getting back into the theater, doing live music — live musical theater,” said cast member Heather Good McCoy.
The Whidbey Playhouse is just one of almost 4,000 theater companies from around the world performing “All Together Now” this weekend, and each company’s performance will be unique; every theater got to choose from a long list of donated songs to create a show that fit its cast.
The Whidbey group will be performing 15 songs from shows such as “Beauty and the Beast,” “Little Shop of Horrors,” “Guys and Dolls” and more. Performances include solos, small group numbers and four show-stoppers featuring the entire cast.
“If no one’s ever delved too deep into musical theater, and they want to start, this is a good way, because there’s different genres of musicals, different styles from different times,” said performer Marianne Campos.
Part of preparing for this weekend has included making adjustments to cover for the cast member who won’t be finished quarantining in time to perform. Performer Erin Tombaugh said most of the cast are veteran performers who haven’t had trouble filling in or helping the team navigate this tricky situation in other ways.
“We have a couple of medical professionals in our cast, and so we’ve had some guidance along the way of how to do this safely,” she said.
Everyone is stepping up to allow the show to continue; even Director Sue Riney will be taking the stage, filling in for the sick cast member in the song “You Could Drive a Person Crazy” from the musical “Company.” Riney said she has performed the song before — though not since 1994, she joked.
Cast members are hopeful the performance will help community members reconnect after the past two years of separation.
Good McCoy said her favorite song from the show is the closer, “Seasons of Love” from “Rent,” because the song’s subject — how to measure time passing — is especially relevant during the pandemic.
“The song mentions daylights, and sunsets, and cups of coffee, and when you’ve lost somebody to the pandemic, to COVID, those things are important,” she said.
Performances will take place at 7:30 p.m. Nov 12 and 13, and at 2:30 p.m. Nov. 13 and 14 at the Whidbey Playhouse, and all four performances will also be livestreamed for those who wish to participate from home. Tickets are $20 and can be purchased at www.whidbeyplayhouse.com/shows.
The Whidbey Playhouse requires all audience members to provide proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test taken within the last 72 hours to enter the performance, and masks are required for all patrons at all times. Cast and crew members were required to provide proof of vaccination before auditioning.