VCA begins to open back up
By Alice Zerbini, Reporter
When the COVID-19 pandemic abruptly began last March, the Vashon Center for the Arts (VCA) had to figure out a new approach to putting on shows. The production of “Singing in the Rain” that was in the works was eventually canceled, but that did not stop them for long.
Later in the year, the establishment made good on the words “the show must go on,” and decided to put on a video production of “Alice in Vashonland.”
All of the cast and crew participated in online rehearsals two days a week and one in-person rehearsal a week, with masks on to film. They finished filming the whole musical in December, but it took three months to complete the editing. Fortunately they had high school students helping.
“The kids were amazing. They just shifted from doing a live performance to doing a video performance. It was not easy… it was a challenge,” music director Marita Ericksen said.
Because of COVID-19 restrictions, the show was different from the previous ones the VCA has put on.
“Usually we do a pre-package show― a famous show like “Frozen” the musical, where you rent the script and the music. [Those are] fun to do, but you cannot make any changes. But since we couldn’t do a big production on stage, what we were able to do is bring the students in to help write the script, [and] help design the costumes,” stage manager, choreographer, and costume designer Elise Ericksen said. “In this way they were able to create their own characters, and we made it more ‘Vashon style.’ For example, we changed the caterpillar to a slug because it fits Vashon better. The kids were able to be creative and put their own voice in the show.”
Just like everyone else, the group dealt with the many problems that come hand in hand with virtual meetings.
“The main issue with rehearsals and performances on Zoom is that there is a delay, so it is very difficult to rehearse a song with someone playing the piano and somebody singing. If you cannot be together, the only way is to have a pre-recorded edited video,” Elise Ericksen said. “Students had to work 80 percent independently. Usually we all gather and we work together, we rehearse together, we perform together … a lot of it is done together in the classroom. With this production, [the students] all had to go home, … go in their closets or in their bathrooms, the places with the best acoustics, and do audio recordings of their lines and songs by themselves; it’s very difficult, but they did a great job.”
The VCA has taken other steps to keep events happening as they would during a normal year.
Different music groups have been performing, socially distanced, inside the theater. The art gallery is also still open, though only a few people at a time can come in. They also host a talk show called “It’s Late on Vashon” that starts at 9 p.m. once a month.
Moving forward, the VCA has some exciting new projects.
“This summer we are going to do “The Wizard of Oz” outdoors. We are doing a two-week intense camp where we put together a show in two weeks. Kids will come every day, so we are not going to do any video— the plan is to do it all together and all live, but we don’t want a massive audience, just friends and family,” Elise Ericksen said.
The group also hopes to be partly on the stage to do “The Addams Family” musical next fall. The theater has overcome so many challenges this past year, and there will be many more challenges to come.
“I was amazed at the resilience of everyone at the VCA and how they were able to carry on.” Marita Ericksen said.