Cal U presents “Gooserumps: Goosed Up Tales and Fables Gone Wrong


Cal U Theatre Department

Humpty Background

Grace Strait, Contributor

Every year, the California University of Pennsylvania Theatre puts together a First-Year Show. This show is made specifically for the first years at the university. Only first years, either freshmen or transfer students, can participate as a cast member. Because of the pandemic and campus being shut down, it was unclear if the first-year show was going to happen. However, it was filmed and streamed over Zoom.

The show, called Gooserumps: Goosed Up Tales and Fables Gone Wrong, was written by the director, assistant directors and the cast members. It’s based on Mother Goose and Aesop’s Fables. The idea was originally thought of by the director, John Paul Staszel. Not only was this show the first-year show, but it also acts as the theatre’s 25 anniversary.

“We wrote the show in three weeks, filmed in less than two, and it took about two weeks to edit,” said Staszel.

After the university decided the semester would be fully online, the lighting designer, Josh Taylor, researched and purchased kits for filming. The actors and directors then began working on the script together. Crew members began creating costumes, makeup designs and working on a storyboard. The actors rehearsed over Zoom with the directors and stage managers. The scene supervisor, Jimmy Amor, began to gather the props and the costume supervisor, Joni Farquhar, began sewing costumes. They also took materials to student costumers and prop artisans so they could make things. The makeup designer created kits and tutorials.

Once everything was finished, the scene shop supervisor drove around West and Central Pennsylvania, dropping of everything needed for the students. This included video kits, lights, costumes, props and makeup. Finally, the actors filmed themselves.

“I think it was hard for them [to film individually],” said Sabrina Hykes-Davis, costume and scenic designer. “They had rehearsed together, but because of sound constraints, they filmed each part alone. They had to react to lines that would be said by another actor without hearing that actor say them. Plus, they were each alone and felt a lot of pressure that wouldn’t be as intense if they were performing in a group. And the added complexity of the technology didn’t help.”

After each of the actors had filmed their parts, they uploaded their videos and a student kept track of each file. The video editor, Gary Smith, took the videos and stitched them all together, adding backdrops. Finally, the show was done, the cast and crew watched it, made some edits and streamed it via Zoom.

Most cast and crew believed that the turnout was great, but some said that they really had no idea how many people tuned in. One log-in could be a whole family said Hykes-Davis.

“I believe the turn out was great!” said Shauna Fahad, assistant director. “I know of quite a few people who tuned into the show.”

The costumes were designed by Joni Farquhar. A guide was created for the actors to take their own measurements. Hykes-Davis created a concept board. Farquhar put together costumes that matched the concept boards and fit the actors. The costumes were then dropped off with all of the other supplies.

“The trick was to create a design that told the story we wanted with pieces that could be assembled without doing fittings, as is typical,” said Hykes-Davis.

An interactive PDF was made as well, to act as the lobby for the show. At the beginning of the stream, before the show started, the link was put into the chat for viewers to look at as they waited. The theatre didn’t stop there. They shared their show with some of the schools in the area. They provided guides to help other theatres continue to practice the arts. Most of the cast and crew really enjoyed the production.

In December, the theatre will also be streaming the annual holiday show. It is a piece created by Michele Pagen, Brian Eisiminger and John Wagner with original music by two alumni. It’s titled What Makes the Season.