Courtesy of PMA / Mini Locally Grown Dance (MLGD) 2020 (December 3–5, 7:30 p.m., online)

November 29, 2020

Cornell Musical Theater Sashays Online

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On Sunday, November 14, Cornell Ambassadors for Media and Performance (CAMP) and The  Melodramatics Theatre Company hosted a live-streamed digital musical cabaret event. Consisting mostly of solos from various musical hit songs, the cabaret was a fun chance for actors and viewers alike to enjoy the arts and have an outlet for creative expression during this time. The event was open to any singers who wished to participate and showcased the talent of students from Cornell as well as Ithaca College. Virtual events such as this cabaret have worked to continue the thriving theater community on campus and expand it, despite not being able to perform in-person. The musical cabaret was pre-recorded and live streamed on The Melodramatics Theatre Co.’s Youtube channel.  

CAMP is the student advocacy group within the Performing and Media Arts Department at Cornell that acts as a go-between the department and the students.  For their third time organizing a musical cabaret, they collaborated with Melodramatics, an organization which puts on full musical theater productions and works with people from Cornell, Ithaca College, and the Ithaca community. 

 Co-Producer Arin Sheehan ʼ22 expressed her excitement of organizing this event, despite it being virtual. “Everyone was super friendly, super helpful, and eager,” said Sheehan. “I think people are just looking for a way to have a creative outlet, even if it’s just singing to a camera.” Students independently pre-recorded their performances which were then edited to balance the singing and accompaniment music to preserve audio quality. Sheehan strove to capture the feeling of past, in-person cabarets, saying that “by having it recorded the week before, we still maintain kind of a live feeling to it, so it still has that energy, as a cabaret would.”        

The digital cabaret was presented as a way to get students involved and participating in the arts, and strove to include all students who wanted to partake. “There’s not many opportunities to sing on this campus if you do musical theater,” said Sheehan, “so just being able to have anyone who wants to come in and sing is very important to us.”

The cabaret was organized around the general theme of “Love,” aiming to spread positivity through theater and performance. Unlike previous cabarets, this event was more structured, with actors being given songs that collectively reflected this theme. Producers communicated with actors to choose songs that fit the theme and worked well for them. Sheehan’s primary goal for song choices was that “everyone who wants to sing can sing a song, and they have a song that fits them, their personality and their style.” The end result was strong, passionate performances which showcased the students’ incredible talent.    

Sheehan stressed that one aim of hosting the cabaret was to bring musical theater to a wider audience beyond just the PMA department. “It’s not just something that we do for ourselves,” said Sheehan, “but something that we can have external and get more people to see musical theater.” In her role as Planning and Events Chair of CAMP, Sheehan prioritized growing the cabaret event both in size and scope. In future (hopefully in-person) events, she hopes to include more duets and group pieces in addition to solos. As CAMP’s cabaret is a fairly new and small event, she hopes that the structure of this cabaret being organized around a theme, will “set a precedent in terms of standardization and structure.”

Sheehan hopes that this event will inspire others to become involved in, or simply enjoy, musical theater and be encouraged to host or attend other virtual performances. “Our big thing as CAMP and Melos is we just want people to know that if they want to do musicals, or if they want to do theater stuff, there are chances to do it!”      


Emma Leynse is a sophomore in the College of Arts and Sciences. She can be reached at eleynse@cornellsun.com.