From virtual concerts to drive-in theater shows, the performing arts community has found many creative ways to present live entertainment, and musical theater group Next Act at the University of Georgia was no exception.
On Oct. 30, UGA’s Next Act will stream it’s third virtual cabaret since the start of COVID-19 titled “Homegrown.” The show will shed a spotlight on music created by Georgia artists, hitting multiple music genres such as country, R&B, blues and more.
“Homegrown” will be available for free streaming on YouTube at 6 p.m. and will be available for access on Next Act’s website. Next Act will also host a watch party at 6:30 p.m. via Zoom where directors will offer insights on song choices, the production process and more.
Next Act is a UGA’s only musical theater student group, and it aims to provide an outlet for those interested in musical theater and other forms of performing arts. Throughout the pandemic, Next Act has strived to continue to provide students with opportunities to perform during these unprecedented times.
Co-director of “Homegrown,” Wyatt Brooks, said this was his first time directing a Next Act production. Throughout the rehearsal process, Brooks said he encountered some challenges that he has never dealt with before in his career, such as those involving pre-filming and editing performances.
Brooks, a sophomore theater and computer science double major, said he enjoyed getting to explore the digital audio workspace in the cabaret’s rendition of Hoagy Carmichael’s song “Georgia on My Mind.” For this number, each performer’s voice was recorded individually and then blended together in post-production to create a choir.
“My co-director Vivian and I wanted to be ambitious and pick songs that involved multiple people,” Brooks said. “And it was very fulfilling for me to get that final product of all the different voices blended together to form a coherent and pleasant sound.”
In addition to building his editing and mixing skills, Brooks said one of his favorite parts of his experience was getting to compose an original song titled “Love in Line,” for the show. As “Homegrown” will showcase well-known Georgia artists, it will also serve as a platform to highlight UGA student songwriters.
Along with “Love in Line,” the show will also feature original songs and performances by sophomores Sara New and Collin Hendley. For her addition to the cabaret, New wrote a song titled “Lavender,” which she had written two years ago as she was falling in love for the first time.
“I tend to write all of my music from personal experiences and feelings,” New said. “And I hope people can relate to my song because everybody’s experienced some sort of happy feeling of love, whether that be in a romantic context or not.”
This being her first semester at UGA, New said she has loved how Next Act has given her the chance to meet others who are passionate about the arts. Along with making new friends, she is also grateful to Next Act for giving her the opportunity to perform during a time when the arts are not as accessible.
Co-director and senior public relations major Vivian Lee-Boulton said she enjoyed working with songwriters like New and Hendley and was happy that “Homegrown” provided them with a creative outlet. She hopes after watching the show that viewers take away an appreciation for the state of Georgia and its artistic community.
“It was really cool just to see how people want to keep creating in this space and giving them a platform to do that,” Lee-Boulton said. “I hope viewers see that we can still do things despite the pandemic, and we can still have that sense of artistic community.”