WATERTOWN — Two local nonprofit performing arts organizations that have had their live performances sidelined due to the pandemic have hit a sweet spot in their “virtual” plans for Valentine’s Day.
With a mix of classic poetry and traditional singing, the two groups are not only allowing their members to practice their craft but are also raising needed funds following months in which live events were canceled.
Little Theatre of Watertown is producing video valentines that can either have a personal message or a sampling from the “love letters of great writers” such as William Shakespeare and Lord Byron.
The Watertown-based Northern Blend Chorus is providing a singing Valentine performed by its members of the tune, “How Sweet It Is To Be Loved By You.”
Leave it to the ‘prose’
In the Little Theatre video valentines, for $10, people can send a personalized romantic love poem, recited by Little Theatre actors, and have it delivered to the recipient’s email on Valentine’s Day. Patrons can also request a non-personalized poem for $5. For an additional fee, a personalized video greeting can be added.
“With COVID-19 keeping us shut down to performances for a second year in a row, we’ve had very limited income but still have bills to pay,” said Amanda Morrison, president of the Little Theatre board of directors.
In October, Ms. Morrison asked the board to “think outside the box” because it needed fundraisers.
“The Valentine messages were the brainchild of (past president) Cynthia Tyler to use not only as a fundraiser, but a way to keep our actors engaged,” Ms. Morrison said. “It’s kicking off a year of fundraising events, virtual performances and unique activities for us while we await the return of traditional, in-person theatre. We’re hoping that the community recognizes and remembers the joy of the performing arts for the north country and they continue to support us in the small so that we can return to the large again soon.”
There are 14 non-personalized poems to choose from that Little Theatre actors can recite and send, such as, “The Passionate Shepherd to His Love, “ by Christopher Marlowe; “Sonnet 116: Let Me Not to the Marriage of True Minds,” by William Shakespeare and “She Walks in Beauty,” by Lord Byron.
‘How Sweet It Is’
The virtual singing “How Sweet It Is To Be Loved By You” vaentines by the all-female Northern Blend a cappella group are $20 and will also be delivered via email.
Northern Blend director Katie Taylor said the Valentines in four-part harmony are a way for her singers to use their voices. It’s been a year since the group has been together to rehearse and its competitions around the state and nation they usually attend were nixed because of the pandemic.
“This gives us a goal, and it gives us a chance to be able to help people send a little message to their loved ones, and we can be a little personalized with a personalized screen — a message from whoever is ordering to the person directly,” Ms. Taylor said. “We can’t go door-to-door, and that’s the best way we can do it.”
Ms. Taylor began putting together such “virtual performances” since last summer. For example, her singers sent the song “A Million Dreams” to local hospital workers and health care providers to thank them for their pandemic work.
“And we did one over the summer, Bruno Mars’s, “Count On Me,’ just to say thank you to our friends,” Ms. Taylor said.
Ms. Taylor produces the videos as her singers send her their voices singing the songs after she sends them “learning tracks.”
“They listen in on their head phones and then, they sing,” Ms. Taylor said, explaining the process in how she produces one video of the same song with different voices recorded in different places at different times.
“The only thing that’s recorded is their voices and they send me those audio tracks and I put them together using my audio software at home on my computer,” she said. “And then, I make one music track with all the voices combined. They then send me videos of them singing over top, and I remove the audio from their voices, put it in with the song audio track and line up their mouths, matching.”
She added, “It’s a lot of work putting it together, but it’s my way to do something as their director to help encourage them and to show them off a little bit.”