Seize the Day

Due to COVID-19, Stevenson’s production of Newsies was videotaped for students, families to watch at home

Alexa Rubin ’21 — wearing a black jacket over her costume and a mask over her stage makeup — stands near the outdoor stage at Stevenson, waiting to film her next scene in the school’s production of Newsies. The stage and breaks in between scenes don’t quite replicate the experience she has had as a cast member in previous years, but she says the air of positivity during rehearsals and on set matches that of previous Stevenson musicals.

“The positivity and the perseverance is really high with everyone because every single person on the production team and company just wanted us to get through and have the most successful show that we could,” Rubin said.

Stevenson’s production of Newsies was broadcasted on Zoom on November 20 and 21 at 7 p.m., and November 22 at 2 p.m. Instead of the typical live production, Newsies has been filmed and edited over the past few months, and those who buy tickets were sent a link to view the musical in their own homes. 

Director and producer Abra Chusid said the cast and crew faced challenges regarding safety precautions when producing Newsies. The production was filmed throughout multiple days, concentrating on certain scenes that required costume changes and larger set pieces.

“Instead of focusing on everything, we focused on a little of everything, but mostly on those numbers that only had a certain number of actors and certain set pieces in them,” Chusid said.

The cast filmed the musical in parts, first by rehearsing sections over Zoom, then practicing in person before finally filming that section. Audio-Visual Assistant Eric Anderson edited and combined the clips to make the final product for viewers to watch.

Emily Fujioka ’21, the stage manager for Newsies, said that the crew had to ensure the outdoor stage pieces were able to support actors while dancing. They also had to focus on safety guidelines, designing the stage so it enabled the actors to social distance.

“Everything has to be staged in a way so no one can be near each other. We also have gloves so actors don’t have to touch the equipment or the ground,” Fujioka said.

With the possibility that COVID-19 having no end in sight, this process of filming Newsies may continue for future musicals. Nonetheless Rubin said she believes the filming experience was just as valuable.

“Everyone should know that this is going to be an experience that might become the new normal, and this might become something that happens every year,” Rubin said. “I was really skeptical at first going into this, but I really think this is going to make such a cool product, and it’s going to be really exciting for a lot of people to watch.”