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Wausau West drama produces ‘Big Fish’ for live streaming

Published: Mar. 15, 2021 at 5:44 PM CDT
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WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) - Wausau West High School is defying the odds and producing theater, even with the COVID-19 restrictions. This weekend they will livestream three performances of the musical Big Fish.

“Kids need to be a part of something. They can’t sit in front of a screen all day and answer questions from the teacher. They need something that’s bigger than themselves that they can work hard on, and learn responsibility, and learn accountability, and learn all those things that you get when you’re in a big project, and things like sports and theater is perfect for that,” said Drama Advisor and Artistic Director Cindi Strobel.

They have already done one show this year, and learned how to perform while wearing masks. The masks are specially made of a clear plastic so their expressions can still be seen. The last show was not a musical, so this is their first experience singing in the masks.

“I have to belt a lot, so that’s really hard to do with a mask to have good breath control with that, so personally it’s a lot more difficult, but it’s not impossible,” said Maddie Welch, who is playing the Witch.

They’ve also had to modify some of the interactions between characters. A number of kisses have been changed to hugs, or a touch of the hand.

“There’s just some personal things that you do that we’re not doing. We’re just blocking it a little bit differently,” Strobel said.

The cast agrees that what is more important is the intent behind the action rather than the action itself. They said a good actor will commit to the emotion of the moment.

“Like a high-five, if you do it well, can be a lot more emotional than a kiss,” said Ben Trueblood, who plays Edward Bloom.

They say it’s been a lot of hard work, but it is paying off.

“It’s just such a beautiful story and I love the music, I love choreography, all that stuff. But this one I think is special,” Strobel said.

Rayna Warrick, who plays the Mayor, agrees. “I think it’s important for people to just be able to see people together doing something like this and add just a little bit of normality, even if it’s from your own living room.”

Unlike the fall show, all three performances this weekend will be streamed live in real time. In addition, each of the 30 cast members gets five tickets per performance that can go to family or friends so that they have an audience and can have human reaction to the performance.

To reserve a screen pass, click here.

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