MUSCATINE, Iowa–Missing the fun and community experience of holding a live spring musical, Muscatine Community College Theatre Director Alyssa Oltmanns found herself singing show tunes around the house. What started as a simple way to stay in a good mood lead to a thought; could the at home singing she and others in the community did turn into a beautiful virtual performance? “We are all still singing,” remarked Oltmanns. “Why not record this singing that’s happening at home, and–on the holiday of love–put it out into the universe and connect us with these songs?”
Inspired, Oltmanns organized a Virtual Valentine’s Day Cabaret to take place throughout the first two weeks of February. Using the MCC Theatre Department Facebook page, Oltmanns put out a call for submissions of videos featuring local performers of all ages and experience levels singing or dancing to their favorite songs from musicals. Each day through Feb. 13, Oltmanns will post at least one new video on the MCC Facebook page where anyone may view it for 24 hours. She then replaces each video with new ones, giving everyone who submitted one their own time to shine. On Valentine’s Day, Oltmanns looks forward to taking the cabaret one step farther by collecting all of the videos and compiling them into playlists on Facebook and Youtube so that the community can enjoy them continuously, just like an in person show.
As an extra special Valentine’s Day gift, the Muscatine Community College Theatre Department has plans to put up a video of a virtual performance of their own. Though Oltmanns revealed few details about it to avoid spoiling the surprise, she believes community members will enjoy it greatly. “Well, since it’s a Valentine’s Day present to the community, it definitely is love-themed, and some friends of MCC Theatre Department, some faces you’ll definitely recognize if you joined us last year for ‘Legally Blonde,’ are coming back to serve you the romantical treat!” she hinted.
Whatever your taste in shows, Oltmanns believes that the Virtual Valentine’s Day Cabaret will have a little something to get everyone’s toes tapping: “it’s been an incredibly draining time, and we all need a little boost, a splash of joy, a moment to escape; music provides that. This showcase will deliver songs you know and love, you’ll probably discover some new songs and new musicals to check out, and we’ve made sure you end the showcase on the 14th with a huge smile,” she shared.
Above all, Oltmanns hopes the online performances will help bring theatre lovers and supporters of the arts together, especially at a time when they cannot gather for live performances. “This community has been so good to MCC Theatre, and to me, both personally and professionally, so when we need to be connected more than ever, there was just no question: it had to happen,” she emphasized.
As Valentine’s Day draws near, Oltmanns continues to accept community submissions. If you have a video you would like included, she encourages you to send it to her at [email protected].