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MTC announces plan to perform online musical

With its 2020 season at the Robins Theatre canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Millennial Theatre Company is planning an online production of the musical “Songs for the New World.”

MTC Director Joe Asente said they have wanted to do something online since the shutdown started, but the publishing companies weren’t licensing their shows for online staging.

“In the last two weeks, they have started opening up to virtual productions,” he said. “This is something we’ve always wanted to do, and now is our chance to do it.

“Songs for the New World” is an early work by composer Jason Robert Brown, a Tony winner for his scores for “Parade” and “The Bridges of Madison County” and creator of the Off-Broadway musical “The Last Five Years.”

It tells a series of stories about characters facing choices, from a young man who hopes basketball will be his escape from the ghetto to a woman weighing the pros and cons of having a rich husband and a soulless marriage.

“‘Songs for the New World’ seemed like one of the few that could fit in this realm of virtual theater without being too warped from how it is intended to be seen,” Asente said.

Most of the songs and stories are solo numbers, which will allow Asente and musical director Savannah Florkowski to work with most of the cast members individually online. The production is being described as a theatrical-movie hybrid with performers recording their numbers and submitting them to MTC for editing with additional footage added.

Florkowski worked for two years with a video marketing agency, and other members of MTC’s inner circle have editing experience, Asente said, and he is looking forward to the challenge of directing actors for the camera instead of the stage.

“It’s such a unique opportunity to try to focus on different aspects of our skill set,” he said. “Film acting is not my forte, but this is a learning process for everyone involved. It’s not something we ever anticipated, but under the current circumstances, it’s the best way to produce anything at this time.”

While the show traditionally is staged with four actors, MTC plans to expand the cast with more than 15 roles available for performers ages 16 and older.

Auditions will be accepted virtually through July 10. Those interested in auditioning can submit a video of themselves singing a musical theater song of their choice to millennial theatrecompany@gmail. com or to any of MTC’s social media platforms.

Since everything will be done online, Asente is looking beyond the area to cast the show.

“Since our inception, we’ve had several people do a couple shows and then head off to New York,” he said. “We have quite a big alumni base outside of the Mahoning Valley and hope to tap into some of those resources. We plan to push our auditions to a greater region than the Mahoning Valley to expand our reach to every nook and cranny of the country. We want to make it as accessible as possible because there aren’t many opportunities right now.”

The plan is to schedule rehearsals in July and August with the final production released in the fall.

agray@tribtoday.com

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