Westport’s Staples Players takes the show to their audiences
WESTPORT — The Staples Players are taking their shows right to their audiences’ homes and radios since the coronavirus is still restricting crowds in theaters.
The troupe will perform three free shows beginning Sunday with a performance of the “Wizard of Oz,” followed by “Pride and Prejudice” on Nov. 8 and ending with “It’s a Wonderful Life” on Nov. 22. All shows air at 6 p.m. on WWPT 90.3 FM or via livestream at ww.wwptfm.org.
“COVID may have canceled our in-person show, but it is not stopping the creative forces of Staples Players,” co-director David Roth said in a statement. “That’s what’s amazing about getting to work with a bunch of creative people, both students and staff. There’s always another idea, there’s always another way to look at a problem.”
Samantha Webster, a senior playing a few different roles, said she thinks audiences will enjoy the style of the shows.
“Radio plays have a fun way of telling stories, with hosts and narrators putting us in the world of a story with just words,” she said. “They’re very comforting and nostalgic, and we could all use a little bit of comfort right now.”
Camille Foisie, a senior playing multiple roles, agreed the shows offer a much needed dose of nostalgia. She said “Wizard of Oz” has been a “trip down memory lane” that many people can connect with their childhood.
“I think that this recording of it will take people back in a positive way,” she said.
Webster said she has also loved how community-based the process has been.
The shows include a combined 50 students, who also produced radio ads for businesses and collaborated with local restaurants on show-themed meal offers.
Little Barn’s special menu for “The Wizard of Oz” includes Wicked Witch Wings, Tin Man Tacos, Munchkin Burgers and Emerald City Cocktails. Orders can be picked up curbside before the show.
Gruel Brittania’s “Pride and Prejudice” menu offers Pemberley’s Prime Rib dinner with Yorkshire pudding, roast potatoes and sticky toffee pudding.
Dunville’s Restuarant will cook up George’s Yankee Pot Roast, Zuzu’s Scallops and Mary Hatch’s Stuffed Sole for “It’s a Wonderful Life.”
Students are still able to learn about the technical aspects of theater, even though some don’t apply to the radio medium. The costume crew going through the motions of costume design, stopping short of creating them, and dance classes are being offered on the tennis courts.
Others are taking a new twist to their traditional roles. The sound crew is creating live on-air effects for the radio shows, with a socially distanced approach to recording at Staples’ radio studio.
Foisie said she has used the experience to learn how to develop the connection with those around her, the environment and in storytelling when she can’t be physically near them.
“It would seem daunting to create a world, such as Oz, in my bedroom, but in fact the challenge has actually been a fun exploration,” she said.
Sophie Rossman, a senior playing Elizabeth Bennet in “Pride and Prejudice,” said Zoom rehearsals have been daunting but rewarding.
“The process has definitely made me appreciate in-person rehearsals, but the experience has been a learning curve for all of us and has further united us as a community,” she said.
She also appreciated the decision to do “Pride and Prejudice,” which she said is unlike anything the group has done in the past four years, offering a classical feel and complex storyline.
“(This show) has made us appreciate the academic and analytical side of theater,” Rossman said.
David Corro, one of the senior actors, said the experiences has introduced him to voice acting.
“I’ve learned from this experience that entertainment comes in all forms, not just in-person ones,” Corro said. “I think audiences will love that Players is coming back despite the chaotic state of everything to put on three shows for them, all of which feature amazing casts and fun, funny, and uplifting stories.”