ELPAS’ ‘Broadway Unplugged’ to be streamed live at Arts Theatre

If lockdown has left you craving a good theatre fix, then worry no more.

THE SHOW MUST GO ON: ELPAS founder and director Nasine van Rensburg says they will be live-streaming their ‘Broadway Unplugged’ show on Saturday
Picture: MATTHEW FIELD

This Saturday, the East London Performing Arts Society (ELPAS) will be hosting a special live-stream of their Broadway Unplugged production, performed live from the EL Arts Theatre.

“Normally in August we have a big Broadway musical-type show that’s full costume, full choreography, the works,” said ELPAS founder and director Nasine van Rensburg.

“It’s become a tradition for as long as ELPAS has been around that every year, we do this review.”

However, like plenty of other regular events this year, the Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent national lockdown has forced the organisers to seriously rethink their approach.

Rather than just cancel outright, ELPAS instead decided to try a different approach and stream the performance over the internet.

“The theme of the show is hope, faith and grace.

“I think it/s something that we all need right now,” said Van Rensburg.

Some of the songs that will be performed on the day include When you believe from the 1998 film Prince of Egypt, Do you hear the people sing? from the Broadway classic Les Misérables and God help the outcasts from Disney’s 1996 film Hunchback of Notre Dame.

“It’s all music that inspires hope.”

They certainly aren’t the first artists to take their work online lately.

Plenty of South African performers, such as Arno Carstens and Francois Van Coke, have been hosting regular live performances online since lockdown began.

Even the world famous Globe Theatre in the UK has gotten onboard, with the theatre posting specially recorded performances to their YouTube channel.

Of course, adapting to the new medium has meant ELPAS has had to make certain changes to their style.

“The live-stream is just normal, beautiful clothes on stage – but it’s not costumes.

“The focus is solely on the voices,” Van Rensburg said.

“We can’t do choreography so that’s why the focus is on vocals.

“Choreography involves heavy breathing and sweating, so to be safe we can’t do anything like that.”

Other challenges they’ve encountered include providing a strong, stable internet connection, since the Arts Theatre does not have its own internet, and adapting to the mindset that come with a different style of performing.

Still, Van Rensburg said they were optimistic.

“For us to be able to go back to performing and doing what we love has been an immense thing,” she said.

“It also helps us to keep it alive, because you don’t want theatre to die over the six or seven months it takes for lockdown to end.

“Especially for community theatre, since we rely heavily on funding and right now, no one has money for sponsors.”

Tickets for the Broadway Unplugged stream are available online at Quicknet and cost R80 per person.

For more information, visit the ELPAS Facebook page.

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