Cal U students take a virtual stage for ‘Gooserumps: Goosed Up Tales and Fables Gone Wrong.’

First-year show turns 25



Mara Corynn (left), Alyssa McLaine, Jillian Bruni-Crytser and Rebecca Remp appear together onscreen but their performances were recorded separately and edited together.

Cal U Communications

The Cal U first-year theater show will celebrate its 25th anniversary this year with Gooserumps: Goosed Up Tales and Fables Gone Wrong. 

Get ready to see what happens when Mother Goose’s daughters Millie and Lillie go off script and adapt their mother’s famous rhymes and their friend Aesop’s historic fables.

The show includes students of all majors who are in their first year at the University or who have never been involved in a theater production. They serve as writers, directors, actors, stage managers and technicians for the production.

Public showtimes are 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 21 and 2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 22.

“One particular production every year is for this demographic,” said Dr. John Paul “J.P.” Staszel, assistant professor of theatre. “Whether it’s your major or you’re just interested in performance, this is a platform to highlight talents and skill sets and to get students acclimated to our university and our department.”

Preparation and rehearsals were different this fall, as the University has conducted the semester remotely in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Nevertheless, the show is going on, with a cast of eight and a supporting team of 15.

“We sent out four mobile studios at a time,” Staszel said, which include high-resolution cameras, tripods, rigging material to hang green screens, lighting instruments, costumes and makeup supplies.

“Everyone’s house is different,” he said. “We had actors filming in their parents’ bedroom, the garage, the living room. They captured everything on high-end film equipment and uploaded it to us for the editing process.”

Students adapted to the challenge of staging a show from multiple locations.

“We basically created a 35-minute play in less than three weeks,” Staszel said. “The students have been awesome, just look at how they’ve adjusted to the circumstances before them. The theater industry is constantly changing, and this has shown them that it is possible to find a way to continue to do their work despite evolving circumstances.

“It’s part of the creative process, and it’s part of life. You wouldn’t do this traditionally, but it doesn’t hurt to have a broader understanding of other skills necessary for a theater production.”

Students from local school districts are usually invited to performances at Cal U; this fall, the theater will come to them. Districts are invited to view the show, and the Cal U cast and artistic team will conduct virtual pre-show talks to introduce characters, themes and concepts from the fables and nursery rhymes.

For Assistant Director Shauna Fahad, a senior theatre major, it was a been a mix of challenge and accomplishment.

“Writing the scripts and rehearsing were the easiest parts because these were things I was used to doing,” she said. “The filming process was a hurdle, from needing to test-shot before each piece to troubleshooting any equipment issue or user error, to figuring out what else needed to be taken into consideration, like the heights of the actors or the light from windows.

“The first-year show was able to be the ‘guinea pig’ for this new process, and everyone learned a great deal from it!”

Watch the show:
2 p.m. Nov. 21:
7 p.m. Nov. 21:
2 p.m. Nov. 22: