Covid disruption forces changes to Nelson Musical Theater show

Nelson Musical Theater musical director of the show A Night on Broadway Chris Lukies, centre, surrounded by band members for the production, which opens night at Nelson's Red Door Theater on Wednesday.

Provided

Nelson Musical Theater musical director of the show A Night on Broadway Chris Lukies, centre, surrounded by band members for the production, which opens night at Nelson’s Red Door Theater on Wednesday.

Members of the Nelson Musical Theater had to battle through more Covid-19 upheaval to bring their latest show to the stage.

A Night On Broadway is due to open Wednesday at the Red Door Theater in Nelson with different performers than those originally cast.

Music director Chris Lukies said with Covid in the community, “things started to go downhill” in June when rehearsals were underway.

“We had assembled a fantastic cast but soon after rehearsals started we started losing cast members to Covid,” Lukies said. “A cast member tried to come back after missing two weeks of rehearsals, but shortly after was diagnosed with long Covid and had to make the decision to withdraw. This means that our distribution has undergone some changes.

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Francesca Beckett, director of the Nelson Musical Theater of Victims, Victors and Villains, center, with the cast and crew of the show, which premiered in March - the first of four shows planned for 2022 by the company.

Provided

Francesca Beckett, director of the Nelson Musical Theater of Victims, Victors and Villains, center, with the cast and crew of the show, which premiered in March – the first of four shows planned for 2022 by the company.

Some performers had to complete or learn a completely different part.

“We perform medleys, so it’s very complicated musically – there are dozens of different pieces to master.”

Despite the disruption, Lukies said he was “blown away” by the hard work of the cast members and believed “the proof would be in the pudding” on opening night.

“We have a nine-piece band on stage and when they’re playing and the actors are singing, it feels like the roof of the theater is about to collapse,” he said. “The Nelson community has been incredibly supportive, and we hope that can continue with this show.”

Deputy director Lizzy Matthews said the show was unlike anything Nelson Musical Theater had attempted before.

“It’s incredibly complex musically, because the actors … and the band have to learn a wide range of songs,” Matthews said. “We have 12 medleys, with songs from 17 musicals.”

Audience members would be “taken on a journey through some of Broadway’s greatest hits, and we have a great balance of songs.”

“We hope they’ll cry, laugh and dance – maybe all in the same medley – and by the time we get to the final, we hope everyone will be on their feet and dancing with us,” Matthews said.

A Night on Broadway is the third of four productions scheduled for 2022 by the Nelson Musical Theatre, which was still recovering from a financial blow in 2021 due to the pandemic, which forced the cancellation of Mary Poppins, leaving the company $40,000 in the red.

A Night On Broadway runs at the Red Door Theater on Atawhai Drive in Nelson from August 17-27. Visit iticket.co.nz for more information and to purchase tickets.