Freshman Musical to virtually premiere “The Theory of Relativity”


Courtesy of Mantra Radhakrishnan

The production team of this year’s Freshman Musical hold one of their weekly production meetings via Zoom. Because of the virtual setting, the team does not have to worry about certain aspects of the production process, such as booking spaces.

Joanne Haner, Reporter

Northwestern’s annual Freshman Musical traditionally provides first-years with a chance to explore the theatre community on campus. The pandemic has forced the cast and crew to adapt with a virtual show. 

This year, the Freshman Musical will put on an interactive livestreamed performance of Brian Hill’s “The Theory of Relativity” on June 4 and 5. The show will premiere through a watch party platform so viewers can have direct communication with the actors involved.

The show’s director, Jessica Vallan, said the creative team chose “The Theory of Relativity” because the plot hits close to home. The show tells the story of 13 seemingly unrelated college students dealing with their own individual struggles, including homesickness, love and broken homes.  

“One of our main goals was having a show that felt personal to us,” Vallan said. “As freshmen, we felt like it would be a great opportunity for actors to share pieces of themselves and find pieces of themselves in these characters.”

“The Theory of Relativity” is a song cycle, which means instead of having a single storyline, each individual character’s songs loosely tie together. Vallan said this format made it easier for actors to record themselves in their own spaces and piece the virtual production together, without losing the spirit of the Freshman Musical. 

Co-producer and McCormick freshman Jasmin Ali-Diaz described theatre as “magic.” As a co-producer, one of their visions was ensuring that magic wasn’t lost on a computer screen. 

“Within the Freshman Musical, we want to make people feel connected even though we’re all very far apart,” Ali-Diaz said. 

Although all cast members are on-campus this quarter, Ali-Diaz and Vallan are both operating from home. Because cast members are in Evanston, they have been allowed to hold in-person rehearsals following NU’s COVID-19 guidelines. However, each cast member will separately prerecord their individual part for the show. 

Co-producer and Communication freshman Mantra Radhakrishnan said the behind-the-scenes environment of the Freshman Musical has not been lost. She said she originally got involved with the show to bond with fellow freshmen with similar interests, regardless of major. 

Radhakrishnan said the true collaboration of everyone involved in the Freshman Musical is an experience that will stay with her post-production. 

“Even if I am the producer, that’s a different responsibility than an actor, but not more power,” Radhakrishnan said. 

Regardless of the format, Northwestern first-years said the Freshman Musical has still continued to create opportunities to get involved in collegiate theatre. 

“For a lot of us, this is our first time in the roles that we’re in,” Ali-Diaz said. “We’re all kind of in the same boat together, figuring it out as you go.”

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