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Marquis Austin

During winter break, Prep School receptionist Dakota Martin and her theater company, Chill Bucket Productions, spent an entire day working with fifteen young performers from across the country to stage a virtual musical as part of their youth program aptly titled Play In A Day. Sporting a background in music theater and years of experience mentoring children, Ms. Martin, who enjoys being a new member of the CGPS community, spends her time outside of work also interacting with kids.

Looking for a show they could produce remotely, Ms. Martin and her creative partner selected a musical written during the pandemic and tailored to Zoom—Super Happy Awesome News! With music and lyrics from Denver Casado and a book by Jessica Penzias, Super Happy Awesome News! follows two siblings who quickly become rivals after they both create web series dedicated to highlighting good news during the pandemic. “It is very current. It talks about the kids’ experiences with COVID,” Ms. Martin explains. 

On Tuesday, December 29, Ms. Martin and her team met with their actors bright and early to begin rehearsing. “We rehearsed with them all day in breakout rooms. I would take them for music, and my colleagues would work with them on acting, costuming and backgrounds,” says Ms. Martin, who was the music director. “We were very busy.” In the afternoon, they recorded the 30-minute show and hosted a wrap party at five o’clock before streaming their hard work on the YouTube later that evening. Although having everyone together in person is preferred, Ms. Martin admits staging a production via Zoom did have certain benefits, such as allowing children from across the country to participate and providing new actors with an inviting opportunity to get their feet wet. “We had kids who were acting for the first time, and they found it less intimidating to be on Zoom,” says Ms. Martin. 

Ms. Martin also recently hosted a reading of The Gift of the Magi to celebrate the twelve days of Christmas. Akin to a radio play with graphics, animation and music thrown into the mix, the event streamed for twelve days in December, getting viewers into the holiday spirit. “I thought, ‘Why not just do something heartwarming and Christmassy?’” states Ms. Martin. She says the performers, who were much older in age than the ones involved in Super Happy Awesome News!, were happy to reconnect with other theater lovers during a time when isolation has become more prevalent than ever. “They were so joyous,” says Ms. Martin. 

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