“Around Broadway In 80 Days” gives a virtual stage to high school performers

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Illinois high school students sing in their submissions to “Around Broadway In 80 Days.” Hamilton’s Miguel Cervantes (pictured top right) is the emcee for the virtual showcase.

Janea Wilson, Arts and Entertainment Editor


A&E


A month ago, Bradley-Bourbonnais Community High School junior Marcus McGee was set to perform in his school’s spring production of “Into The Woods.” Due to COVID-19, the show has been postponed until July, but McGee still gets to showcase his talents in “Around Broadway In 80 Days.”

“Around Broadway In 80 Days” is a virtual showcase presented by Broadway In Chicago, the Illinois High School Musical Theatre Awards and hosted by “Hamilton’s” Miguel Cervantes.

Students from 80 schools across the state who were cast in qualifying roles from canceled shows are encouraged to submit a video of them singing or dancing to a number of their choice. Until May 31, Broadway In Chicago will accept submissions for their Instagram account to give students a platform for their talents.

“I love seeing the talent that this thing has,” McGee said. “That’s totally insane to me, because right now my world is so small with where my community is. I forget that four hours up, there’s one person belting their face off in a room.”

Supporting others through comments and virtual roses has been one of McGee’s favorite parts about this event. He said he wants to boost the confidence of those who chose to submit a video because it takes courage to film yourself for thousands of people to see.

McGee sang “For Forever” from “Dear Evan Hansen” for his submission piece and was one of the first videos posted to Broadway In Chicago’s Instagram account. After this, McGee said he felt overwhelming support from his family, strangers and professional performers.

“‘Around Broadway In 80 Days’ is making dreams happen,” McGee said. “There was no other context would there be for someone that I look up to in such high regard to reach out to me about how impressed they were with me.”

Submissions to “Around Broadway In 80 Days” are not limited to high school students, but several Broadway performers and IHSMTA alumni have been asked to contribute to the virtual showcase.

Cecilia Trippiedi won the IHSMTA best actress award in 2016 and submitted a video of herself singing “What I Did for Love” from “A Chorus Line” to encourage students to continue to perform. She said that having shows canceled can be discouraging but she wants students to know this experience is only going to make them stronger.

“I thought it was super appropriate to the situation, just to remind everybody why we do this and that it’s not about the awards or any of that stuff,” Trippiedi said.

Natalie Doppelt, who won best actress in 2018, also thinks it is important for students to continue to pursue the artform they love. She said IHSMTA gave her a space to do so and wants other students to have the same opportunity.

Doppelt said she is also grateful for all the work IHSMTA and Broadway In Chicago are doing to include as many people as possible in “Around Broadway In 80 Days” and unite the greater theater community.

“I think it is such a great way to honor all of the stories and performances that didn’t get shared this year,” Doppelt said.

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Twitter: @janeaAwilson

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