Eerie music starts to play as the screen fills with misty fog. The image of burning candles starts to break through the fog – faint at first, and slowly comes into stronger focus. The music picks up, and a whispering starts to mix into the high pitch ringing. Depending on your familiarity with musical theatre, you may recognize that the opening chords of Life After Life from Dracula the Musical start to play. If not, you can still appreciate the spooky ambiance filling the room as the mist fades out, and Dracula (Bradley Jaden) takes the stage to begin his opening solo.
The Theatre Channel’s Halloween Episode
Adam Blanshay Productions and The Theatre Café collaborate to bring a brand-new web series to musical theatre fans featuring talent from across the West End. Four episodes are planned for release in 2020 – with this second episode following a Halloween theme. The episode features seven hit songs from musicals including Young Frankenstein, Dracula, Carrie, and Jekyll and Hyde. Directed and choreographed by Bill Daemer, each piece is a fully-produced musical number – featuring the costumes, make-up, lighting design, and high-energy theatrical events you are missing in this time of quarantine.
High Production Value
Confrontation from Jekyll and Hyde begins with Josh Piterman sitting center stage staring at his reflection in a handheld mirror. A spotlight shines down on him as he begins to sing of the inner turmoil his character feels – navigating the balance between Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. You may find yourself, like this writer, entranced by his vocal power, heightened by his clear, deep emotional connection to the piece.
Just when you might think Daemer is going to take a minimalist approach to the number, video editing allows for Piterman to break into two. As Piterman sings of Jekyll’s evil alter ego threatening to take over, we see the physical manifestation take place on screen. What a welcome surprise! In this reviewer’s opinion, this is a moment of fun complexity that is only possible in a virtual offering.
High-Energy Musical Numbers
We can dance along to many of the famous songs in this episode’s lineup. Following Linzi Hatel’s heartbreaking rendition of When There’s No One from Carrie, we hear a strumming of the guitar likely familiar to many. Trevor Dion Nicholas takes the stage for the concluding number of the evening – Time Warp. With the help of the Café Four ensemble (Alyn Hawke, Emily Langham, Sadie-Jean Shirley, and Alex Woodward), Nicholas wows us with the famous, upbeat number. By now, you too may be dancing along in your seat, with the performers in full costume as they dance the original choreography.
While these numbers are filmed live, Daemer collaborates with videographer Ben Hewis to take full advantage of the virtual platform, in this reviewer’s opinion. With standout performances and excellent music selections, The Theatre Channel’s lineup suggests we should stay tuned for Episode 3 – coming out on November 27, 2020.
RUN TIME: 30 minutes
Streaming now, new episodes coming soon.
Online via video link.
About the Author:
Lauren Katz is a freelance director and dramaturge, and new to the Chicago Theatre Scene. She recently moved from Washington DC, where she worked with Mosaic Theater Company of DC in Company Management, as well as directed around town with various theaters.
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