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Birder Players moving ahead with musical production 

By Donna Schuld

DE PERE – After a year with shows being postponed and other COVID-19-related challenges, the Birder Players in De Pere are gearing up for a production of a Broadway show this May.

The audition call went out for the comedic musical, “Something Rotten,” and the response was better than expected.

Alicia Birder, executive director of the Birder Studio of Performing Arts and Birder Players, said she was pleased.

“We had the first round virtually, and everybody submitted vocal auditions that way,” she said. “And that worked beautifully, we had a great response. This is such an exciting time to actually feel like we might be moving forward.”

“Something Rotten,” set in the time of William Shakespeare, is a show the company picked up two years ago.
Birder said it had been postponed twice.

“‘Something Rotten’ was chosen for now as a smaller cast than most of the other ones that we need to reschedule,” Birder said.

She said now that rehearsals are underway, having a musical with many scenes involving only two or three characters is proving advantageous from a practical sense.

“The two- or three-person scenes will be able to be rehearsed socially – distanced very safely in the theater as it’s a very large space,” Birder said.

Even with the creative challenges around them, the actors are embracing this gradual return to the theatrical experience as they remember it, she said.

“I can’t tell you how happy these people were, to be doing what they love and being around those that they love,” Birder said. “It was wonderful. It lifted our hearts and our spirits.”

Zeb Metzler, Green Bay, who is playing Shakespeare said the “biggest difference is the lack of being up-close-and-personal.”

“In a COVID world it is a little different for us performers to have to use restraint and space ourselves out,” Metzler said. “It’s so refreshing to get back to the process of doing the auditioning and rehearsing. As long as we’re in a theater doing it, we’ll do whatever we have to just to make it work.”

Birder Players have not had a large–scale production since “Chicago” closed last February, and “Something Rotten” will not be ready for an audience until May 20 at the Broadway Theatre in De Pere.

Birder, who is also the show’s producer and director, keeps a cautious outlook on events.

“Naturally, yes, I want the theater back in full seating so we can pay our bills, but if we can actually have the show and have 20 or 30 people in the audience, we are going to be very pleased with that,” she said.

And even though 2020 was a year most would like to forget, Birder maintains a sense of appreciation.

“I understand a little more clearly now how passionate those who have been working with us are and how much they have committed to us to make this happen, and that’s been very special, too,” she said.

For ticket information, visit birderonbroadway.org.

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