Photo: Lisa Loeb’s new album (from her website) || By Mark Kennedy, Associated Press | Group reunions on Zoom have rarely become the fuel for good art. But one has created a musical — actually 10, to be precise. Grammy Award-winner Lisa Loeb was inspired to capture the weirdness, wonder and horror of 2020 during a Brown University online reunion. So she tapped dozens of her fellow alumni to help create “Together Apart,” a collection of 10 mini-musicals that explore moments during the year. There are also songs by Grammy-winner Gordon Chambers.
There are stories about speed-dating during the pandemic, elementary school taught through Zoom, a pair of divorcees forced to become roommates, moms struggling through quarantine and a family game night that spins out of control. There are exasperated parents, long-ago lovers and lots of alcohol — perhaps even a drunk racoon.
“People really had the passion to connect and to tell these stories and to work together. So it created a lot of purpose during this time. And, for a lot of people, it created an opportunity to be creative,” says Loeb.
“Together Apart” makes its debut Friday on the streaming platform Broadway On Demand. Tickets are free with a suggested donation to The Actors Fund.
Loeb, whose music career kicked off with the 1994 hit “Stay (I Missed You),” logged onto a Zoom of former Brown musical theater students and listened as people reminisced about shows and talked about how COVID-19 had affected their plans and hopes.
“As everybody went around the room, in my head I felt like I was almost in a musical already,” she says. “So I said, ‘You know, instead of just talking about these musical theater memories, we should write a show.’”
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“Together Apart” also serves as an advertising for the skills of Brown University alumni, who overcame creative and technological hurdles to make a series of musical moments that represents a pandemic diary.
“It was a really amazing way to be introspective and appreciative of the experience that we got while we were in college and the friendships that we’ve made,” says Loeb, who graduated from the Ivy League institution in Providence, Rhode Island, in 1990.
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Mark Kennedy is at http://twitter.com/KennedyTwits