Lost Nation Theater hasn’t offered full production shows with multiple performers and performances since 2019, which explains why those connected with Montpelier’s award-winning theater company are excited about the upcoming musical “All Together Now!”
“We haven’t been in a musical rehearsal room in over two years — since ‘Cabaret’ in 2019,” producing artistic director Kathleen Keenan said.
“All Together Now!” is a global theater event taking place Nov. 12–14, including on the Lost Nation Theater stage in the City Hall Auditorium Arts Center. Music Theater International made special arrangements allowing local theaters around the world to choose from selected songs from musicals and perform them that weekend without paying royalties or rental fees (normally a big expense). While other production costs remain, free access to songs gives theaters a boost.
The Lost Nation show includes a cast of seven and a pit band of three. The 80-minute program features more than a dozen songs, drawing from the Broadway shows “Rent,” “Ragtime,” “Into the Woods,” “Waitress,” “Company,” “Mary Poppins,” and other musicals.
When I met with a few cast members to talk about the production, two of them — Shanda Williams and Léonie Fournier — named the happy, contagious song in the headline of this article as a favorite. Lost Nation president and founding artistic director Kim Bent challenged me to spell it — so, I did! Spell-check doesn’t agree, but I think I got it right.
“Most people love songs from Broadway but can’t go there right now,” Williams said. “Music makes people happy….We’re bringing Broadway to them.”
Jessica Goodlin, who, like Williams, serves on the theater’s board, named the piece “Seize the Day” from the musical “Newsies” as one of her favorites, and David Ruffin picked “The New World” from “Songs for a New World.” Ruffin said he was excited about returning to theater after a decade away. Fournier, the youngest cast member, remembers attending her first Lost Nation performance at the age of five. She started a five-year stint performing with the theater three years later at the age of eight.
Although the cast donned masks in the photo session, during performances they will be farther apart and at least 10 feet from the audience, so they will not be masked while singing.
Keenan and Bent said they are closely complying with COVID-19 safety precautions established by the Actors Equity Association. All staff and volunteers will be masked and fully vaccinated. Audience members must wear masks and show proof of full vaccination, and they must buy tickets in advance. Lost Nation is also limiting in-person tickets and setting up a seating plan that provides for social distancing. No tickets will be sold at the door.
Keenan directs the show, and Bent manages scenic design. Patrick Wickcliffe is musical director, and Katie Shults, who won Broadway World’s Regional Theater Best Actor Award for her LNT performance in “Cabaret,” is both performing and doing the choreography.
Performances of “All Together Now!” run on Friday and Saturday, Nov. 12 and 13, both at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday, Nov. 14, at 2 p.m. Musical theater fans can either attend performances in person or livestream them. Because of copyright restrictions, the musical cannot be recorded for later broadcast. Tickets can be purchased at the Lost Nation website, www.lostnationtheater.org
Keenan and Bent are looking forward to Willem Lange’s staged reading of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” on Dec. 17. Lange has been doing the annual reading since 1975, and this event will be recorded for viewing through Christmas.
Bent said the upcoming 2022 season emphasizes original works that tell Vermont stories. He said they are making a renewed commitment to telling the stories of more BIPOC and indigenous people.
“If there’s a silver lining [to COVID-19],” Bent said, “it’s a recalibration through our whole culture.”
Continuing on the same theme, Keenan said, “There’s nothing better than theater for creating opportunities for empathetic interactions.”