ANN ARBOR – Wild Swan Theater, an Ann Arbor-based children’s theater, has announced that it will continue its weekly virtual variety show program for children throughout the rest of July.
The “Wild Swan Variety Show” is a 30-minute virtual show featuring songs and stories from children’s stories like Charlotte’s Web and Winnie-the Pooh.
Sandy Ryder, co-artistic director for Wild Swan Theater, said that the show was born from the theater company wanting to stay connected to the community.
“So we thought ‘what can we do to stay in the community, to stay important, to keep contributing, to keep doing what we love’ but in a way that we can do it that’s safe and stuff,“ said Ryder. The theater company decided to try online variety shows which incorporate Wild Swan artists and different stories, songs, characters, music and poetry.
Wild Swan started doing the variety show in early July after in-person shows were halted in mid-March.
The next live shows will be at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, July 23, and July 30. Ryder said performances remain on the Wild Swan Facebook page for a few days so that audiences can watch at their own convenience.
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Ryder said that the shows are fun to perform but they aren’t just for children, older kids and adults can also find joy and meaning through them.
Each show is rehearsed before the live performance so that artists, who all volunteered to do the shows, can make changes or add things.
Ryder said its fun to figure out to make the shows translate onto their virtual platform.
“It’s different not having the kids sitting there and performing to them and hearing them laugh,” she said, adding that the shows aren’t quite the same as performing in front of a live audience, but “it’s the next best thing.”
The shows wouldn’t be possible without Hannah Schweitzer, a teacher for the Wild Swan Theater’s online camps, who helped to set up Zoom and Facebook Live, said Ryder. The online platform has also expanded Wild Swan’s audience to around the country.
The theater has only heard good things about the shows, but Ryder misses interacting with audiences. She added that there has been a learning curve when figuring out how characters interact and technological challenges, but that the company has had fun figuring out how to perform to a virtual audience.
Ryder said that she is proud of how the artists have come together to present the performances and that the company is really appreciative and grateful to the Ann Arbor community for supporting it until it can resume live shows.