Musical 'Dear Edwina' Available Through Sunday

Sherman Central School students are pictured in the school’s musical, “Dear Edwina.” The show can be viewed virtually through Sunday. Photo submitted by Sally Berg

SHERMAN — “Dear Edwina, I am a student at Sherman Central High School and I really miss the musical productions we used to do before the COVID pandemic. What can I do? Sincerely — Gotta Sing.”

Dear Gotta Sing, Don’t despair. The show must go on!

No, it was not a real letter, but the show did go on as Sherman musical production co-directors Sally Berg and Andrew Minton, with a film crew and cast of 10 students, presented a performance of the musical, “Dear Edwina.” The show could be viewed by live-stream from June 10 to 20.

The idea to stream a production began in the fall.

“Our Drama Club, under the direction of JR and Joann Liffner, presented a virtual play in the fall and we thought it’d be a great opportunity for the kids if we could somehow pull it off,” Berg said.

The idea was met with great enthusiasm from the students.

“The students were great to work with (as they always are),” Berg said. “Some of them nearly cried when we first told them that we would be able to perform a musical at all this year.”

“Dear Edwina” is a musical written by Marcy Heisler and Zina Goldrich. It tells the story of Edwina Spoonapple, a 13-year old girl who produces a live weekly advice show by the same name out of her family garage with the help of her family and friends, in her hometown of Paw Paw, Mich.

When a talent scout for the Kalamazoo Advice-a-Palooza Festival comes to town, Edwina is desperate to be invited to be part of the convention and, by doing so, find her place in the spotlight.

Creating a show for live-stream posed many challenges.

“We had to all learn how to put on a musical all over again. Filming is very different than performing the show for a live audience and requires a different level of energy and engagement from the students,” Berg said. “Without the feedback from an audience, like laughter and applause, the cast had to keep their energy levels up for each other.”

Of course, COVID restrictions created a great challenge even when choosing the show, Berg said. Because the stage is small, they knew they would have to have a small cast, so they limited participation to juniors and seniors who were usually involved in the shows.

“That left us with 10 cast members to work with,” Berg said “From there we searched for shows with limited sets, small casts, and little to no choreography. ‘Dear Edwina’ was the perfect fit.”

As usual, social distancing created a special challenge. Because of the small space, cast members were assigned “spots” in which they had to remain, Berg said. This, however, created another problem.

“Finding a way to keep movement on stage to keep the production from being stagnant was a challenge,” she said. “We used more props than usual and multiple cameras to make up for the lack of movement. The quick pace of the show (the way it was written) helped with that, too.”

All of these challenges did not deter the students, Berg said. They rose to every challenge and threw themselves into the production.

“They embraced the whole challenge of recording and while we’d all prefer being able to perform in front of a live audience,” she said. “They made the best of the situation and have a final product that we’re all very proud of.”

Those who wish to view the production can go to the website and click on the link to “Dear Edwina,” Berg said.

“They can purchase tickets either for individuals or for households and the video will be available to view for 48 hours.”

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