COVID-19 or no, one thing is certain: where theatre kids are concerned, The Show Must Go On.
With kids housebound due to the coronavirus and the spring production postponed indefinitely, Children’s Music Workshop, a not-for-profit organization in Southwest Michigan that helps hundreds of kids each year express themselves through theatre, dance, and music, invited the cast and CMW community to submit videos of themselves performing their favorite numbers for the #CMWLivingroomConcerts.
The results? Much like theatre kids, they’re about as heartwarming and fun as you can imagine.
We asked singer, voice teacher and music director Andrew Fisher to watch the videos and leave each of the performers a bit of feedback, or as we call it in the biz, “notes”. Enjoy the show – and enjoy a peek “behind the scenes” of what goes into the exchange between young performers and their directors!
Here’s Violet performing “How Far I’ll Go” from Moana.
“GO AHEAD NOW! “How Far I’ll Go” is one of my favorite songs from Moana and I’m so glad you picked that song! You stood up very nice and tall, which is exactly how you want to perform that piece. Moana is singing about her desire to find out what’s beyond her island. Her desire to see how far she can go and discover everything that’s out there. So don’t be afraid to use your body to show that desire. For example, reaching out with your arms is a good way to physically show how you are “reaching out” for something beyond. Even in how you sing, the further you reach the more your audience will see and feel that. Let’s talk about that final big note and that awesome pose at the end! YES, GIRL!!! GET IT!!! That’s what it’s about. Being big and bombastic is always a good way to perform a musical number. With that wonderful smile of yours, if you can keep it going the whole song, it will only make it better.”
Caroline, Mary and James perform “Do You Want To Build A Snowman” from Frozen.
“YES, TAKE A BOW! I really enjoyed watching this. “Do You Want to Build a Snowman” from Frozen is such a good number. The relationship between Elsa and Anna sets up the whole story as it shows their separation and eventual coming together. The bigger you act the better, your use of movement and arms, along with props and costumes, MAGNIFICENT! And we have to give it up to father character! BRAVO!”
Peighton (and her dad!) performing “Love Is An Open Door” from Frozen.
“LOVE IS AN OPEN DOOR! I did not know, until today, that seeing a father and daughter sing Frozen’s “Love is an Open Door” was exactly what I needed to see! YES!!!! This was cute! I enjoyed the play you had back and forth – it was really really good. Don’t be afraid to go even more “cartoony” with it. In this song, you have one person who is TOTALLY naive and the other (SPOILER ALERT) is up to no good! With that in mind, the more silly, goofy and animated you are the better! You can even make your singing even more playful by, at times, saying more than singing or as we call it in the biz, “Speak Singing”. THAT ENDING THOUGH!!!! Thank you so much for that, I didn’t know I needed that TOO!!! Yes, changing it up to, “No” with the “Amazingly Sassy” walk away was the best. Never be afraid to add your own twists or finding new ways to make a song your own. BRAVO!”
J.D. performs “I’ll Fly Away” from O Brother, Where Art Thou?
“FLY AWAY BROTHA! You can never go wrong with a really good Gospel or Bluegrass song. This song was featured in “O Brother, Where Art Thou” and I love that you decided to accompany yourself on the guitar, that’s awesome! Your playing is stellar and matches your voice so well, and the genre fits you perfectly too! The one thing I love about this kind of music, I call it “Singing to the Heavens” because of your connection with yourself and where you’re singing to. With that in mind, don’t be afraid to literally sing up to the heavens. When you sing upwards, tilting your head up and your chest out, you open up your entire body and allow yourself to be free and sing further.”
Ella and Sienna perform “Imagine” by John Lennon
THANK YOU! This song is one we need most of all right now! When we’re in the middle of a crisis it’s so important to put aside differences and come together. I love the piano and singing, always the best of pairings. This song has such an amazing and extensive history from its composer, John Lennon. You pour a lot of your heart and soul into your singing so never be afraid to go all the way. Music is about expression, it’s about how we share and are willing to be vulnerable with our audience to touch them on a deep level. I can see that you’re dreamers and trust me, you’re not the only ones! BRAVO!
Paisley, Sloan, and Whitney perform “Do You Want To Build A Snowman” from Frozen.
“THANK YOU! This was such a good idea for changing the perspective of this song. Once again, I didn’t know I needed this until today. To tell you the truth, “Do You Want to Build a Snowman” is among my top favorites from Frozen. You all did such a great job of playing off each other and using each other while switching. In this number, we get to see Anna grow up while trying to connect with her sister behind a closed door. Don’t be afraid to exaggerate and make bigger faces and laughter even when you’re sad or longing. You definitely win creativity points for the great idea of showcasing the character growing up in this video. BRAVO!”
Maya performs “Reflections” from Mulan
“GIRL, I CAN SEE THAT REFLECTION! Come on now, Mulan is such a good musical film and “Reflections” is a musical staple. You did such a wonderful job letting your voice be free and powerful. The amazing thing about that character is that she is always in conflict with what society is telling her to do and what she is longing to do. This song especially speaks on the external and internal struggle she has with trying to be what others want her to be but fighting to define herself. The more you have that struggle with yourself while singing, the more that comes out. It’s that back and forth you have between each line. The more that gets brought out the better. While your recording device was struggling to keep up with your big voice. I say bigger is always better. GO AHEAD, GIRL!!!”
Abby sings “Good Morning, Baltimore” from Hairspray
“O O O O BALTIMORE! I was singing it with you! You can’t beat this classic from Hairspray! This is a true “Bark” song, the bigger you make it the better. One of the great things about the character, Tracy Turnblad, is that she has something to say and BY GOLLY (Yes, I just said that) she is gonna say it. Not only is she fighting for people who look like her to make it big but, she’s fighting for minorities as well. This is truly a song from the heart so don’t be afraid to go bigger and bigger the further you go in the song. Your voice is a big one too, the more you let it go and do its thing, the more you’ll command the stage. Also, you have a wonderful smile, so keep showing those pearly whites! And that key change, YES MA’AM, sing it loud and sing it proud! BRAVO!”
Abigail performs an original mashup of “Defying Gravity” from Wicked and “Let it Go” from Frozen.
“A MASH-UP OF IDINA MENZEL? YES PLEASE! I love this! Finding ways to make the music you sing your own is always a great thing and both “Defying Gravity” from Wicked and “Let it Go” from Frozen” work well together. Both of these characters are discovering just how special they are and choosing to be true to themselves. They are making these big statements about who they are and that they are no longer going to let others define them. Good job putting both together. Don’t be afraid to let your voice ring and be heard. Let it go and defy that gravity! BRAVO!”
Violet performs “Good to be Bad” from Descendants
“IT’S GOOD TO BE BAD! I’m still bobbin’ my head to this one. Good Job! The Descendants series is such a neat idea – it showcases a different side of the Disney Universe by showing the kids of various Disney Villains. This song is all about that “attitude” – the more you show, the stronger it carries. You do such a good job of transitioning from rapping lyrics to singing melodies! That’s a tough thing to do. In the “biz” we call it “spittin’ that text”; the more you get those words out the more you’re heard and it even makes your song bigger and bolder. You’re allowed to lean on that villain side even more. The more attitude, the better! BRAVO!”
Can’t get enough of these talented kids? Follow along with #CMWLivingRoomConcerts on Facebook!
About The Music Director: When Andrew Fisher isn’t singing at local and regional venues, you’ll find him instructing students of all ages as a music director and voice teacher. Interested in working with him while you’re waiting out COVID-19? Andrew offers online classes both privately and through The Citadel Dance and Music Center. Email him at Abftenor@gmail.com, or through the Citadel to book your online lesson.