By Ed Pierce
William Shakespeare’s comedy “As You Like It” contains the line “All the world’s a stage” and those words have been taken to heart by members of the Windham Center Stage Theater this year during the pandemic.
Despite not being able to host a live audience for performances because of COVID-19 restrictions, through the dedicated efforts of crew and performers, the theater’s annual production of “A Winter Wonderland Celebration” will be available for viewing online Feb. 1 through Feb. 6, 2021. Viewing will be free, but donations are encouraged to WCST Scholarship Fund for graduating high school seniors.
The virtual evening of entertainment features songs, dance and
performances for all ages and was filmed earlier this month at the Gorham Arts
Some of this year's 'A
include, from left,
Maddie Hancock, Elle
Hancock and Diane
“Our goal was to make a PBS-type holiday special using winter-themed local art as transition pieces,” said Rachel Scala, co-chair of Windham Center Stage Theater. “Viewers can expect to see 15 to 20 different acts, including the Maine State Ballet, theatrical skits, and lots of singing. It’s really an amalgamation of old school acts that the entire family will enjoy.”
Windham Center Stage Theater is a community theater that encourages people to participate in all aspects of theatrical arts in an environment that is safe and welcoming.
Because the theater’s home venue at Windham Town Hall was unavailable, the move was made to film the production and air it online.
“This is the first big online virtual event we’ve ever put together and it posed a challenge for us,” Scala said. “We didn’t know a lot about videography, which platform to use for this and all of the technical issues associated with doing this.”
Scala said that because of its success presenting this show virtually this year, the theater is looking at similar opportunities going forward during the pandemic.
“We really want to give performers a chance to show what they can do,” she said. “This presentation of ‘A Winter Wonderland Celebration’ is also a reminder for our community that Windham Center Stage Theater is still here and we’re not in the dark. We’re grateful to the Gorham Arts Alliance for their collaboration on this project.”
Many of the performers appeared in last year’s “A Winter Wonderland Celebration” production, with Maine State Ballet being new to the show this time.
Videography and editing for “A Winter Wonderland Celebration” was done by Evan Rivard and the production was directed by Darnell Stuart.
Andrew Linzell Shepard, a Windham Center Stage Theater board member and a 2016 graduate of Windham High School, said he’s anxious to see the final version of “A Winter Wonderland Celebration” production.
“I worked on the light and sound when it was filmed,” he said. “I’m really excited to see how the public will react to the wide variety of performances, music, skits and a cappela groups.”
Shepard moved back to Windham after graduating from Hampshire College in Massachusetts last year and said he was eager to help because the annual production serves as a fundraiser to provide a scholarship for drama students.
“Even though this event is free, and donations are optional, it’s an opportunity to help a graduating senior receive a scholarship,” he said.
Working on the production also helped foster Shepard’s technical abilities.
“I’ve learned a lot and added a technical level,” Shepard said. “It was an opportunity for me to explore bringing people together on stage, using different spaces to record the show and to see how it enhances the theater.”
Windham Center Stage Theater’s usual home for community productions is in the auditorium at Windham Town Hall and seats about 100. All activities for the theater were halted in April 2020 because of the pandemic and this will be the first production staged by theater members since then.
To view “A Winter Wonderland Celebration” online from Feb. 1 to Feb. 6, or to make a financial donation to the WCST Scholarship fund, visit www.windhamtheater.org <