Many things have gone virtual this past year - like movie releases and healthcare appointments–and Broadway productions. In fact, a Broadway production was performed virtually for the first time, and one of our Girl Scouts had the opportunity to be part of it.
Amber Chan, a Junior in Troop 3835, has been a Girl Scout since kindergarten and has been a young actor for a few years. This past year she auditioned and gained a role in the world's first 100% live and virtual full-length off-Broadway musical, Newsies. For this production, Actors Technique NY (ATNY) theatre company used proprietary technology developed by the director, Broadway veteran Carl Anthony Tramon, to make the production as seamless as possible.
While she's not auditioning for roles, Amber is busy studying and Girl Scouting. She's participating in this year's Girl Scout Cookie Program with plans to sell 560 boxes. To learn about how Girl Scouting has impacted her career on stage, she takes us behind the scenes in this interview!
Tell us a little about the off-Broadway production and your character's role.
Newsies is a well-known musical based on the 1899 Newsboy Strike, in which a ragtag group of boys and girls shut down the most powerful newspapers in New York City in their quest for higher wages and better working conditions. Like Girl Scouts, they wanted to make the world a better place. I played Spot Colon, the leader of the Brooklyn newsies.
What was unique to this production, and how did you prepare for it?
This was the world's very first 100% live, entirely virtual production. There have been streaming "virtual musicals" before, but they have all either been live streams of a theatre company on stage together, or the actors film their scenes on their own at home and send them in for editing to produce a "virtual show" that is then viewed at specific times. ATNY's Newsies was completely live and virtual, with all actors broadcasting from their own homes worldwide. We performed in front of a green screen in our living rooms, so each performance was unique, subject to all the whims of live theatre because it was live theatre. The proprietary software helped sync the music, voices, and dancing. Have you ever tried to sing over Zoom? Here's an experiment - sing "Happy Birthday" with a few friends. It's hilariously awful, but that's why a live virtual production had never been tried before.
How has Girl Scouting helped in your Broadway career/experience?
Girl Scouting has taught me to take risks and try new things. The great thing about theatre is that you can be whoever you want and create a new character with each show. Being in Girl Scouts has given me the confidence to go out on stage and give it my all, as well as take risks like auditioning in a nationwide casting call and broadcasting a full-length musical from my living room.
What are some of your favorite Girl Scouting memories?
My favorite memory was getting to speak in the Rose Garden of the Arizona Capitol at a press conference about the bill my troop had inspired to ban the intentional release of balloons.
Now that it's cookie season, how has performing helped your Girl Scout Cookie business?
Being in shows has taught me to think quickly, and like the cookie program, it has made me more outgoing, which is essential when speaking with customers.
What do you/your troop plan to do with the proceeds?
Right now, we're working on our Bronze Award to raise awareness of the dangers of releasing balloons into the atmosphere. We had planned to take a trip to California this summer to celebrate the end of elementary school and bridging to Cadettes, but we will put that off until next year now. And hopefully, we’ll do something even bigger and better.