Every year, Princeton University Players (PUP) — the University’s only completely student-run musical theater group — hosts its annual all-frosh musical, and this year is no exception in spite of the pandemic. On Nov. 28 at 7 p.m. EST, “Sex on Broadway 2020: Things We Missed” debuted via YouTube live stream as PUP’s first-ever virtual musical.
Directed by Sabina Jafri ’24, “Sex on Broadway 2020: Things We Missed” showcases new takes on classic Broadway show tunes and shares the Class of 2024’s unique journey from the onset of the pandemic to the beginning of the fall semester.
Through its wide variety of solos, duets, and full-cast performances from eleven newcomers, “Sex on Broadway: Things We Missed” highlights the impact that the pandemic has had on graduating high school seniors. From Casey Beidel ’24’s emotional performance of “Being Alive” (from “Company”) to the humorous rendition of “Trapped” (from “The Addams Family”) by Solomon Bergquist ’24, the musical explores longing for human interaction, disappointment of virtual proms and graduations, feelings of frustration after months of quarantine, and struggles of starting college virtually. As a member of the Class of 2024 myself, it was incredibly moving to see the emotions that I experienced over the past few months translated into art.
Beidel is a contributing writer for The Prospect.
In addition to the excellent musical numbers, “Sex on Broadway: Things We Missed” is a technically impressive show and makes great use of its virtual format. Although the show was rehearsed and recorded separately, the innovative cuts and choreography smoothly transitioned one scene to the next, keeping viewers engaged and eager for more.
The online format of “Sex on Broadway: Things We Missed” also created an interactive experience for audience members — one that would not have been possible in a traditional in-person show. Throughout the musical, audience members used the live chat to leave encouraging comments and cheer on cast members. Despite being physically apart, many members of the Princeton community tuned in to support their fellow Princetonians and recognize their talented performances.
After the show, I had the opportunity to chat with performer Bethany Villaruz ’24, who sang “Can I Have This Dance?” (from “High School Musical 3: Senior Year”) alongside Aaron Ventresca ’24. I spoke with her about her experiences putting on this show in a virtual format.
“The biggest challenge of an online show was connecting with the other actors. It was hard to form group and stage chemistry over Zoom,” said Villaruz.
Despite the challenges, Villaruz only had high praise for her fellow performers and crew.
“It was so rewarding to see the final product! [Callie Zheng ’24] did such a good job [as assistant stage manager and video editor], and it was great to see everyone’s talent,“ she said.
“Sex on Broadway: Things We Missed” gave student performers a platform to share their music and talent with the Princeton community. Though only an hour in length, the show beautifully captured the cast and crew’s passion for musical theater and sense of camaraderie, radiating hope and optimism during a socially distant semester where so much of the theater world has gone dormant.
“Sex on Broadway: Things We Missed” is available on PUP’s Youtube channel here.