PEMCO fall musical invites students to dream of travel
Grace Doerfler | Thursday, October 22, 2020
For students with wanderlust, this year’s Pasquerilla East Musical Company (PEMCO) Revue, “Gettin’ Out of Town,” may be the perfect cure.
The show, running Oct. 22 to 24 with performances at 7 p.m. each day, is designed to creatively respond to the challenging conditions imposed on theater in the COVID-19 era. Tickets are $5 and can be purchased online or at each performance.
For the PEMCO producing team, trying to keep musical theater safe through COVID-19 restrictions has required constant flexibility, said senior Danny Shaw, the director of the revue. With performers in specialized face masks, an outdoor stage and blocking that keeps actors at a safe physical distance, this year’s show has had to adopt numerous precautions to ensure that everyone remains safe.
“For musical theater specifically, the big challenge is singing because singing has a greater risk of spreading respiratory droplets,” Shaw said.
It’s a tall order for Shaw, who is directing his first musical with PEMCO. Despite the challenges of balancing public health and good theater, however, Shaw said he is maintaining an optimistic outlook.
“It gives you another sense of creativity. What can we do to be creative, given the circumstances that we’re in right now?” Shaw said. “There’s no precedent for this. There’s nothing to follow, so we get to do it ourselves.”
The creativity began with the choice to do a revue for the fall musical. Composed entirely of solo and duet performances, the revue format has afforded the PEMCO team more flexibility so they can respond to changing health conditions as necessary.
Co-executive producer Elizabeth Travnik, a senior, said when Notre Dame announced its reopening plan, the PEMCO team decided a revue would stand the best chance of success amid the public health measures on campus.
“We decided that it would be best for us to choose a revue to do this fall because we can put it together, we can write the script we want for it and we can be more flexible,” Travnik said. “Since summer, this has been in the works.”
Choosing a revue has also given the group an opportunity to create a musical designed to help students escape an unusually stressful semester. Over the summer, the production team decided to respond to the stay-at-home orders and travel restrictions with a show about traveling. Travnik said they then moved forward to plan “Gettin’ Out of Town.”
Shaw noted that the travel theme offers a way for actors and audiences alike to temporarily escape the travel restrictions of 2020.
“Traveling is not something that people are really doing right now, so we wanted to give people memories of better times and looking forward to the future when we could go off and [travel],” Shaw said.
Shaw said choosing the songs to make up the revue was a collaborative effort between the production team and the cast. Each actor who auditioned prepared a song that reflected the theme, and then the production team worked to match songs with actors.
Co-executive producer and senior Gabrielle Evans said everyone involved in putting the show together has worked hard and remained flexible amid the unusual circumstances.
“They’ve put their heart and soul into making this happen,” Evans said.
Shaw said he hopes audience members see the show as a chance to reconnect with the arts after months of lockdowns.
“In times of crisis, like our current time, the arts tend to be forgotten because they’re not essential for life,” Shaw said. “But whenever things like that are taken away, you realize how much that actually means.”