For most of the last five years, the majority of my video work has been for performing arts organizations. And 2020 started off no different. Then came the Covid-19 Pandemic, and the ensuing shutdowns that have ground all traditional performances to a halt. But you can’t really stop the arts. Artists and organizations have scrambled to find a way to share their work with audiences, and video happens to help in that regard. This post will be the second in my series “Performing Arts in the Pandemic,” highlighting how organizations in the performing arts have rethought the way they present work to audiences.
Over the last few years, I’ve had the pleasure to work with the immensely talented Keith Spencer. He is a remarkable performer and singer and has put together a few of his own shows, including We Shall Not Be Moved (a concert featuring songs from the Civil Rights Movement), and Brothers on Broadway (a tribute to African American men and their leading roles on Broadway). I filmed Keith’s Brothers on Broadway show in 2019 and early 2020 (before the pandemic, see bottom of post for an excerpt) at two different venues. It is a great show, featuring the rich history of African American men’s roles in musical theater. It is incredibly enjoyable as well as educational.
This past October, Keith and his band hosted a benefit concert for the Peace Center in Langhorne, PA. The concert was part of the Peace Center’s virtual auction weekend. Entitled A Little Bit of Broadway, A Whole Lot of Heart, the performance included hits like “Mack the Knife,” “This is the Moment,” “Come Rain or Come Shine,” “Make Them Hear You,” and many others.
Of course, performing artists have had to tap into their creativity differently his year to find new and innovative ways to reach audiences during the pandemic. So it’s no surprise that this concert was completely virtual. We filmed it at the Bristol Riverside Theatre in front of no audience. All the musicians wore masks during the performance, except Keith, of course. And it was a great show. I oughta know, since I was one of the few people in the theatre.
The Peace Center hosted the concert online for its virtual auction weekend, and it had a great reception. One viewer wrote, “Pure joy — a beautiful recording.” And it was a great performance, as you can always expect from Keith and his band.
Clark Conner from Weston Sound recorded the audio, and Joe Hannigan did the mix. Jason Simms designed the set for BRT’s production of Cabaret that sadly got canceled at the beginning of the pandemic. Joining Keith on stage were Peter Hilliard (music director/keyboards), Sean J. Kennedy (percussion), Stephen Kleiman (guitar), Ryan Kuhns (bass), and Claudia Pellegrini (violin).