When preparing for her theater production class, Harbor City International School instructor Emily Parr wasn't quite sure about her plan. Normally the students in that class are responsible for the production elements of the fall-winter theater show. But with Harbor City opting to adapt its learning model to distance learning because of the pandemic, she'd have to think of something else. Then she found the script "Vintage Hitchcock: A Live Radio Show" and had an idea.
"You adapt the show to your environment, your kids, your climate. Why not take this show, which is supposed to be done live on stage, and do it as a real radio show?" Parr said. "Even if it meant more Zoom time, at least it was something creative that got them out of the same old routine."
Vintage Hitchcock is an adaptation of three of Alfred Hitchcock's classic films: "The Lodger," "Sabotage" and "The 39 Steps." The shows are introduced by an announcer and include vintage-style commercials in between each new segment. Parr's six theater production students paired off, and each tackled one show.
"They were responsible for all the production elements of the show," Parr said. "For example, the show has about 300 sound effects, so they spent time seeking those out."
Auditions and rehearsals were all held through video conferencing. Students acting in the show said it has been interesting to create a character using only their voices.
"You don't get things like a costume, a different setting, lights. It's just your voice," said student Jay Ostrazeski. "And I had a large character in each of the shows, so it was hard to make them sound different vocally."
Fellow student Kaisha Meland said she had a harder time rehearsing in the socially distanced setting.
"I missed things, like how we'd uplift and hug each other at rehearsals," Meland said. "Like being able to just touch someone on the shoulder to let them know that they're doing a good job. We still encouraged each other over Zoom, but I definitely had to find more of that encouragement in myself."
Once students were ready, it was time to record. Parr had small groups of students come to the school and spaced them out in the cafeteria.
"I tried to be overboard on safety. I told them I wanted them to be safer here than if they went to the grocery store," Parr said. "They were troopers. They wore their masks and stayed the 10 feet apart at their individual microphones."
Now that recording has wrapped up, the students are eagerly awaiting the final product. Unlike most shows, they'll get to witness the show with their families at the same time.
"That's something that's unique to this show. Normally, you never get the chance to see the show that you're in, but we'll all be listening to the final product together," said theater production student Scout Weinandt. "It's both nerve-wracking and exhilarating at the same time."
Theater and sound technician Alex Flinner will edit together all the components into the show, which will be available for listeners to stream anytime starting on Jan. 28 and only through Jan. 30. The production is streaming on Broadway on Demand. Instructions to use Broadway on Demand are available on the production's Facebook event.