South Bay Musical Theatre Announces Virtual Programming Slate

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Among the first community theatres to reinvent itself in the COVID-19 era by switching from traditionally staged musicals to a prolific schedule of online programming, South Bay Musical Theatre (SBMT) has announced a dozen entertainment-related streaming events.

"Since May, we have mounted nearly 50 online productions—of all kinds," says Executive Director Sara Dean. "Before the pandemic, we would typically stage three musicals and a concert or two each year. Fast-forward six months, and today we are creating an average of two productions each week—as we have ventured into entirely new content categories."


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A quick visit to SBMT's new "eStudio" website at SouthBayMT.com/estudio confirms a wide variety of offerings including plays, concerts, lectures, interviews, workshops, films, and even games—all with a connection to musical theatre. The November/December schedule starts with a one-on-one interview spotlighting Tony-winning Broadway actor James Monroe Iglehart (Aladdin, Hamilton, Memphis) and concludes with a Readers' Theater presentation of the play I Am A Camera by John Van Druten. Set in Berlin in the 1930s, I Am A Camera was the source material for the Kander & Ebb musical Cabaret. In between those bookends are everything from a Three Stooges movie musical to a panel discussion by local directors brainstorming ways that theatrical productions might be reimagined for today's more inclusive era.

The goal of the eStudio concept, says Sara, was to provide local artists with a platform to remain connected so they can continue practicing their craft, while preserving the thrill of live performance for a loyal audience that is now supporting the company through donations rather than ticket sales. Under the new financial model, nearly all of SBMT's programming is provided as a free service to the Bay Area community, and they in turn have responded generously to SBMT's fundraising appeals.


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Going virtual brought new challenges, Sara admits, but also unexpected new opportunities in both flexibility and accessibility. Performing online has expanded the company's reach beyond its Silicon Valley roots, and enabled the creative team to experiment successfully with nontraditional casting.

"We have hosted performers from New York, Washington DC, Oklahoma, and Utah," Sara enthused, "and the actor playing the lead role in our Halloween production of Dracula was performing from his home in Barbados!" The group's audience is remote as well, with some of these shows being watched from as far away as Japan and Thailand. Since the launch of the eStudio, over 1,500 people have joined in the live events, and the program archives have been viewed over 6,000 times.


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The full list of SBMT eStudio shows for November and December includes the following:

Tuesday, Nov. 10 | 7:30 pm: One-on-one interview, with Tony winner James Monroe Iglehart

Thursday, Nov. 12 | 7:30 pm: Panel Discussion on Costuming, with Sharon Peng, Lisa Rozman, and Mae Matos

Monday, Nov. 16 | 7:30 pm: Broadway in the 70s, lecture by Heather Kenyon

Saturday, Nov. 21 | 10:00 am: Jazz Dance Workshop, led by Michael Saenz

Monday, Nov. 23 | 7:30 pm: Musical Theater Trivia, hosted by Walter M. Mayes

Sunday, Nov. 29 | 8 pm: Songs of Moxie and Heart, cabaret featuring singers Jamie Gussman, Juan Castro, Amanda Le Nguyen, and Don Nguyen

Wednesday, Dec. 2 | 7:30 pm: Directing Panel: Reimagined Musicals, with Tanika Baptiste, Lee Ann Payne, Gary Stanford Jr, and Nicole Tung

Saturday, Dec. 5 | 8:00 pm: Cinema Spotlight: Swing Parade of 1946 with Michael Hirsch

Monday, Dec. 7 | 7:30 pm: Underappreciated Gems from the 60s, lecture by Ron Susek

Wednesday, Dec. 15 | 7:30 pm: SBMT Mamas, cabaret featuring seven singers who have recently given birth or are currently expecting

Saturday, Dec. 19 | 10:00 am: Jazz Dance Workshop, led by Michael Saenz

Saturday, Dec. 19 | 8:00 pm: Readers' Theater: I Am A Camera by John Van Druten 


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About South Bay Musical Theatre
South Bay Musical Theatre was founded in 1963 and is now in its 58th year of entertaining Bay Area audiences as a non-profit organization. For more information or to obtain tickets online, visit their website at SouthBayMT.com.

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