In a normal semester, the Miami Theatre Players — an entirely student-run musical theater group on campus — would present two performances: a three-show run in McKenna Theatre and cabaret featuring cast and crew members . Recent performances have included “Legally Blonde,” “The Wild Party” and “Carrie.”
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent shift to online activities, the group decided to do a themed cabaret for the fall 2020 and spring 2021 semesters.
The cabaret, titled “Musical Mayhem,” allowed students to chose a song to sing from any musical of their choice. Audiences were invited to log onto a virtual meeting and enjoy the performance for free.
“The songs didn’t really have a theme to go with each other, and that was because that was the only option doing a cabaret versus a full time musical,” said spring cabaret director and third-year New Paltz student Caitlyn Schmidt.
Schmidt, along with other members of the e-Board, decided that they wanted the spring cabaret to have a more cohesive feel to it than it’s fall predecessor.
With this in mind, they eventually landed on a theme: Miscast. A “miscast” is when an actor is cast in a role that they would not play under “normal” circumstances. Although the songs were still taken from multiple eras and genres, Schmidt hopes for a smooth transition from piece to piece.
“This whole idea of miscast is just someone performing a song that they wouldn’t get the opportunity to sing. Whether that be a gender swap [or] age swap,” Schmidt said.
After a weekend of auditions and carefully casting roles, the Miami is looking forward to presenting their spring cabaret, “Miami Miscast.”
The Miami Theatre Players, like any other organization during the COVID-19 pandemic, are trying to emphasize the importance of inclusivity and connection while people are unable to meet in person.
“We placed a lot of emphasis on the fact that you could audition if you’re home or in New Paltz this semester… If people were home, they submitted videos and we had our editor edit everything together,” Schmidt said. “But then if people were in New Paltz and comfortable with filming, we had everybody get COVID tested the week that they were supposed to film, and then we followed all CDC guidelines and filmed everything in person with masks.”
Despite the barriers, the Miami Theatre Players have been highly successful in their ability to work cohesively with one another over long distances. The goal of the group as a whole has been to stay connected to campus and the style of work they had been doing before the pandemic and create a sense of community for its members.
“We’re still a club, we’re still a family and we still want to have this prominent presence. I think just showing that we are able to do this on our own in an online format, because it’s a challenge altogether, putting on a show in a normal world without faculty interaction… I’m really excited for everyone to see that performance is still prominent even though COVID-19 is still a thing,” Schmidt said.
Although no dates are confirmed, viewers can expect to see the final show over Zoom sometime in late April, or early May. To see who is on the cast list, information regarding the shows debut or additional Miami Players content, visit the group’s Instagram @themiamitheatreplayers.