Clarksville, TN – An Austin Peay State University (APSU) musical theatre voice professor wrote two “mini-musicals” during the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic. Both musicals are available on YouTube.
Dr. John Ray – who recently joined APSU as assistant professor in musical theatre voice after serving as visiting professor last year – said he wrote the mini-musicals “as the pandemic worsened and performance opportunities dwindled.”
“I had the idea to create a couple of virtual mini-musicals to offer actors a creative outlet,” Ray said.
The musicals were “my way of trying to contribute artistically and put a much-needed positive spin on being socially distanced from one another,” he added.
Ray wrote one of the mini-musicals for adults and the other for children.
“It took a couple of weeks to create the children’s musical, including writing the dialogue, the songs and the orchestrations,” he said.
The children’s musical is named “Thelonia Thorn and the Thunderous Thursday.”
“Simultaneously, with a great comedy idea from an old friend, Susan Hurst Pruitt, about four Americans quarantined in a rundown hotel in Rome, Italy, I created ‘La Quarantena,” Ray said.
All actors for both shows auditioned by submitting recordings. Once cast, the cast and crew had Zoom rehearsals two or three times a week for about five weeks.
They then recorded three takes on all the non-singing scenes via Zoom and recorded each song while listening to a music track on earbuds, Ray said.
“During the entire rehearsal process, I was teaching myself how to use film editing software,” he added. “For ‘Thelonia,’ I also had to learn to create some magical effects.”
Ray said he spent more than 250 hours creating, rehearsing, directing and producing the final mini-musicals.
The cast on “La Quarantena” included APSU associate professor Talon Beeson, well known Tennessee actor Brian Best, Ray’s wife Katharine Boettcher and the up-and-coming Danielle Threet.
The child actors on “Thelonia Thorn” included Ava and Aubrey Baker, Claire Billingsley, Margarita Kryshtal, Evan Lisic, Gaines Odom and Morgan Solomon. Brian Best made a guest appearance as bumbling wizard Cracklebottom.
“Thelonia Thorn” premiered online on July 31st. You can watch it at https://youtu.be/5iwUmj9m3LE.
“La Quarantena” will premiere online on August 7th. You can watch it at https://youtu.be/cYWwZZVX68A.
For more information about the APSU Department of Theatre and Dance, go to https://www.apsu.edu/theatre-dance/.