Music Theatre performance must go on

Music Theatre students at the University of Adelaide are adapting to online learning, performing together in class exercises from the ‘socially distant’ safety of their own homes.

Students have this week recorded a performance of ‘We Dance’ from the musical Once on this Island as a means of keeping connected during the global COVID-19 pandemic.

George Torbay, Head of Music Theatre at the University’s Elder Conservatorium of Music, says he and his staff have devised a range of creative approaches to make online study possible.

“The piece the students have recorded this week expresses the simple joy of what makes the world extraordinary; it celebrates life and all that the earth possesses and I told them to just have fun with it!” Mr Torbay said.

“Face-to-face student contact is so important, particularly with our extroverted Music Theatre students who need to work together to learn song lines and dance routines.

“Some of my students live together in shared housing but others are on their own and this activity has allowed everyone to get together, remain connected and perform as a group.

“I’m sure the wider community will enjoy seeing our wonderful students in action.”

Mr Torbay says the more formal learning of Music Theatre has been adapted to use online collaboration apps where staff set tasks and students share their efforts, be they songs, monologues or acting exercises, for staff feedback and peer review.

“The set tasks that the students have to complete online include songs from set periods of music theatre.

“For example, this week the first year students are completing songs from the 1920s and the second years are finishing off songs from the 1980s.

“Students upload a solo performance and get notes for improvement from both me and peer review.

“They have had choreography to learn from the new musical Six and they have just completed ‘Supercalifragilistic’ from Mary Poppins which they must record and upload.

“Acting and Script Analysis classes are taking place via Zoom to allow the students to hear and see each other work in real time.

“Certainly these are unique and challenging times, but I’m impressed with how my staff and students are making the most of this new learning opportunity.”

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