Wright State, Sinclair to offer shows virtually

Two collegiate productions are heading your way next weekend as the virtual theater trend continues across area stages.

Sinclair Community College presents “The Cold Equations: A Play for Radio,” streaming free on Sinclair Theatre’s Facebook page @sinclairtheatre beginning Friday, March 26.

Based on the 1954 science fiction short story of the same name by Tom Godwin and adapted and directed by Daniel Brunk, “The Cold Equations” concerns an ethical dilemma updated to reflect contemporary themes in this expanded version. The title specifically refers to scientific calculations used to create unemotional procedures designed to ensure successful missions.

“There is no overtly political message in the show, but it is inspired by modern times and the current political climate and post-9/11 world,” said Brunk, assistant professor of theatre technology at Sinclair who has provided sound and lighting design for numerous productions including last season’s “Treasure Island.” “This is a human story dealing with issues of ethics, guilt and consequences of actions that kind of takes it out of the sci-fi environment. I started listening to the OTR (Old Time Radio) maybe 15 or 20 years ago, and I heard ‘The Cold Equations’ as produced by the NBC radio program X Minus One around that time. The thought of making my own radio version has been with me for a decade. It turned out that now was the perfect time to undertake the project, given the pandemic and the necessary limitations on live performances.”

The audio performance features the voices of Lydia Dye, Connor Gray, Helen Mahle-Grisez, Kiarra Matos, Alexis Paige, and Mari Pullings. Brunk, who also recorded and edited the production, is particularly pleased about the students gaining experience as voice actors, offering a different dynamic from what they are traditionally accustomed to in live performance.

“The radio genre is (rare) so if our acting students ever have the chance to do commercials or voice acting for animation, (having) this experience is great,” he said. “(In particular), the experience of going into a recording studio and doing multiple takes.”

“I am in awe of the driven force behind Dan Brunk’s student-centered approach,” said Gina Neuerer, chair of Sinclair’s Music, Theatre and Dance Department. “Hurdles do not slow him down. Instead, he gets excited and creative in his problem-solving way of living and teaching. He spent a great deal of time last summer prepping for a very different way of teaching and producing performances. Sinclair theater and our full community have really benefited from his work. I have certainly had moments of worry this past year in being able to accomplish our goals to provide opportunities for our theater majors and give back to our community. But, ultimately, I have consistently learned to trust the artists of Sinclair theater to do the work and our community to support the work. It has been a beautiful collaboration.”

Additionally, Brunk holds a B.A. in Theater and English from the University of Maine and an M.F.A. in Theatre Production/Design & Technology from Ohio University. He has previously worked at the University of Maine at Farmington, Dartmouth College and Papermill Theatre in New Hampshire.

Wright State University’s first filmed musical, “The Theory of Relativity,” will stream online Friday, March 26 through Sunday, March 28.

Featuring music and lyrics by Drama Desk Award nominees Neil Bartram and Brian Hill (Broadway’s “The Story of My Life,” memorably produced in its local premiere by the Dayton Theatre Guild in 2012), “The Theory of Relativity” concerns the importance of interconnection. Through an assortment of joyous, witty and moving songs, scenes and monologues, a group of college students experience their first independence and all the highs and lows of human connection that comes with it.

In fact, one description of the show reads: “Take a Physics manual, blend it with the sound of ‘The Book of Mormon,’ the hilariously nerdy references of ‘The Big Bang Theory,’ a sprinkle of ‘Chicago,’ a few drops of ‘Glee,’ bake it in a Broadway bowl, use all the originality you can have…That’s the successful recipe for the spectacular song cycle, ‘The Theory of Relativity.’”

“Finding a cinematic expression for ‘Theory’ has been an exciting opportunity,” said director Greg Hellems, head of WSU’s Musical Theatre program whose recent credits include “A Little Night Music” and “The Mystery of Edwin Drood.” “The show is unapologetically about recognizing the need for human relationships and the experience of making and losing those interactions. The lyrics have taken on a whole new meaning now that many of those connections have been disrupted by the real obstacles presented by COVID-19. For theater artists, shooting a film has been a rewarding new challenge. Working without a film crew, the cast and production team have explored the medium of film in the most accessible of ways, our iPhones. For everyone working on this production, this was our first chance to be back in rehearsal and in performance since March of 2020. I was so moved the first night the cast sang together live, I was teary-eyed. After a year of waiting, having a chance to make art again has been joyful.”

Also, R. Wade Russo provides musical direction.

Audiences can view “The Theory of Relativity” online at www.showtix4u.com and follow the prompts to purchase tickets for home viewing.

Contact this contributing writer at rflorence2@gmail.com.

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