After the pandemic almost completely shut down the entertainment industry last spring, Whitefish performers Erica von Kleist, David Blair and Mikey Winn got together to drink a glass of wine and write music about quarantine life back in April.
The trio didn’t realize they had just written their first song of would later be a filmed comedic musical called “Your Musical Is Cancelled: The Musical!,” which released for streaming online Nov. 20.
Professional Whitefish actors and musicians, along with Broadway performers with ties to Alpine Theatre Project (ATP) and Whitefish Theatre Company (WTC), collaborated to create the Zoom musical, which delves into 2020 topics such as quarantine, “unemployment riches” and the Black Lives Matter movement.
“We started writing a song about the experience of quarantine and it kind of ballooned from there,” Blair said. Even as they ran with the idea in the spring, the musical’s creators didn’t think they might have a legitimate musical in the works until 2020 continued throwing curveballs throughout the year.
“Black Lives Matter was really ramping up and we kept ourselves open to the things that were going to happen,” Winn said. “We can’t write about this time without including that stuff. It’s a big part of this year and this COVID experience. Everything is so intertwined.”
With 11 actors and a nine-person Broadway orchestra, Blair wrote most of the script and each actor filmed their own scene via cell phones and laptops from their homes in the Flathead and on the East Coast. Filmmaker Adam Pitman edited the footage to a Zoom format.
Blair, who directed the musical, says it was definitely different than past films he’s worked on. Usually, he is more directly involved with the actors. But since he wasn’t able to physically direct them, he wound up making shot lists while the actors filmed themselves.
“Not being there was the biggest challenge for me,” Blair said. “But it worked out perfect.
While the musical is available for rent, the creators have also submitted it to film festivals and hope to take it on tour and do live performances with WTC and beyond once the pandemic winds down, while donating portions of ticket sales to theater companies in need. Both WTC and ATP helped fund the project.
“This is just the tip of the iceberg,” von Kleist said. “We’ve got some big plans for it and we really do believe this can have legs … We’re looking to make this a source of good.”
As Flathead actors, musicians and performers have navigated the pandemic with canceled and altered shows, Blair, Winn and von Kleist are grateful they were able to continue collaborating and creating art for the community and themselves.
“What’s really great about ‘Your Musical Is Cancelled’ is that it’s not only an artistic focus for me, but it’s about the diabolical humor I got to share with these guys,” von Kleist. “Not only was it fun, but it’s a testament to the fact that art is resilient, and regardless of what’s happening, we will make good art.”
“I’ve been a theater nerd since I was a kid,” Winn added. “The pandemic definitely took a lot away but I feel lucky that there’s a positive thing to come out of it.”
To rent “Your Musical Is Cancelled: The Musical!,” visit https://vimeo.com/ondemand/urmusicaliscancelled.