Streaming Spring

by Rachele Stoops

Editor’s Note: This is Appearing Locally’s first review of a livestream event, so this focuses on the streaming aspect of the show. You can find our review of the live production of Capitol City Theater Company’s Spring Awakening here.

In a normal year, I like dressing up and going out to see some live theatre as much as the next girl.  Alas, it’s 2020, and nothing is as it was.   I have to admit, though, there’s something pretty fabulous about settling down to watch a show in my pjs and slippers, with my chihuahua on my lap and my bag of fun sized Three Musketeers bars sitting next to me.

In addition to their socially distanced and limited live audience, Capitol City Theater’s production of Spring Awakening is also available to stream live, which is the perfect solution to the should we/shouldn’t we question of going out during a global pandemic.

And Capitol City’s Spring Awakening is worth putting your good pjs on for.  The cast is strong and energetic, and there’s no weak link in the vocal performances.  

I was excited to see James Leroy Booker III as Melchior (I saw him as J.D. in Heathers at Nebraska Wesleyan and was temporarily obsessed) and Lauren Laass’ voice is perfect for Wendla; clear and tender, with a childlike element that contrasts with Booker’s Melchior.

The men’s ensemble numbers are especially pleasing to listen to, as all the voices blend in the unique harmonies.  

The technical aspect of streaming a live show adds some interesting layers I wasn’t expecting.  The stream loaded right away and started smoothly, although I did notice a slight variance between the sound and the actors’ mouths.  About five minutes in, during the first scene with Wendla and her mother (Megan Fangmeyer), the screen froze, and I didn’t know whether to blame the feed or curse my internet service. It happened a few more times during the show, most noticeably about the 9:00 mark (after intermission).  If you do find yourself reloading the stream, don’t forget to unmute the sound!  It automatically mutes every time it loads.

There were a few things about the streamed version that made me miss being there in person: occasionally either an ensemble member wasn’t mic’d or the microphones were having issues, which greatly affected the sound quality on the stream.  Ensemble numbers need to have all singers equally mic’d, and when they weren’t, it was jolting.  The accompaniment was often too loud to blend well with the voices, and once a musical intro covered up the lines that led into the song.  These are things that are typically masked in a theater space, but are only too obvious when the sound is being directly fed to a computer.

I did appreciate the side camera angle that alternated with the front shot. 

Something I’d forgotten about this show is how short some of the scenes are, which can make it seem choppy.  With a limited live audience, the scattered clapping sounded tentative, like they weren’t sure whether to clap or not.

The audience response is something you miss if you stream the show at home.  The comedic lines are more fun surrounded by laughing audience members, and since my chihuahua slept through the whole thing (no offense to the cast; he’s just not that into musical theatre), I was laughing solo.  I also missed having the program to check names as characters were introduced, although the virtual program provided on the Capitol City Theatre website was helpful.

The final musical number, “The Song of Purple Summer”, sung by the whole cast, was breathtaking.

If you’re hesitant to venture into public right now (and who could blame you?), streaming Spring Awakening is a fantastic compromise.  Bonus: no line in the restroom!

If you watch: The stream of Spring Awakening will be available for a full year. You can purchase access here. If you’d like to see the live production, remaining performances are October 21, 22, 24, 25, 27-30, November 1 and 4-7. All performances are at 7:30pm at the Capitol City Theater (1742 North 48th Street in Lincoln). In-person tickets are available here.

Rachele Stoops is an English and theatre teacher at Bryan Community Focus Program, and is on the board of the Nebraska Association of Community Theatres.  She has three fantastic almost-grown-up offspring, and a chihuahua named Cecil.  Rachele is currently working on her doctorate in Educational Research through Doane University.  In her spare time, she enjoys karaoke, baking, and talking about how busy she is.

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