Side Menu Ends, main content for this page begins
Back to Side Menu (includes search)

Madison live streams theater productions

Posted on: February 12, 2021
Shrek Jr.

Shrek Jr.

We don’t need to tell you that COVID-19 has made everything extremely difficult for all students, staff, families, and community members. We have consistently had to adapt to the circumstances prevented to us while still working to ensure our students have the opportunity to participate in the activities they are passionate about, safely. This is why we were extremely grateful to be able to live stream two theater productions over the last couple of weeks: “Shrek the Musical Jr.” and “The Internet is a Distract-- Oh, Look, a Kitten!” 


“Shrek the Musical Jr.” was a musical performed by students from grades 6-9 on January 22, 23, and 24, while “The Internet is a Distract-- Oh, Look, a Kitten!” was a comedy performed by students grades 9-12 on February 5 and 6. Madison Theater had over 200 live streams purchased for the two productions. 


“We were told by parents that many family members who live out of the area were able to watch the shows from as far away as California,” states Madison’s Theater Manager, Mr. Joel Brown. 


Madison Schools chose to live stream the productions as the State of Ohio’s guidelines for theater limits in-person seating to 15% of the theater’s capacity, which works out to 50 seats for our High School theater per performance. In order to comply with the guidelines, in-person tickets were limited to the families of the cast and crew, which was determined by the total number of seats available for the run of the show divided by the number of students in the cast and crew. 


“We know this was disappointing to many family members,” Mr. Brown expresses. “That’s why we put a lot of time and consideration into setting up a high quality live streaming system.” 


MLS intends to use the live streaming system for future theater events. The system allows the videographer to zoom in for close-ups and includes a much better sound system than the quality one could achieve on a phone or laptop. Outside of COVID-19, the theater often sells out of all 331 seats for the spring musicals; the idea is that people who can’t get tickets, can’t get into town in time, or can’t make the production dates will still be able to watch live from home. 


We also intend to use the live streaming equipment for future events outside of the theater. While we did not live stream Madison’s winter concerts, we were able to use the equipment to tape performances from seven choirs and bands in the district from grades 6-12, and posted the recordings on the district’s YouTube channel, here. The rest of the 2020-2021 school year, we plan to live stream the high school spring  music, awards programs, National Honors Society inductions, and high school commencement. 


“We’ve been working on putting together our system since this summer, when I started researching equipment and software options, with a lot of help from the district’s technology coordinator, Ms. Joy Shaw. Dr. Tuttle-Huff and the Board were supportive, and the district’s drama booster group, MASK, donated a portion of the funds for purchasing the equipment,” explains Mr. Brown. 


All of the equipment is entry-level professional quality and is extremely popular with live streamers on Twitch and Youtube. Our new set-up includes: 


  • Two HDMI video cameras with high quality tripods

  • An ATEM Mini Pro, which is a combination switcher and encoder. This allows us to switch between cameras, add on-screen graphics and titles, and do fades and transitions. It is easy to learn with its push-button operation, rather than requiring new operators to learn the computer software. It can also be set up to easily connect to YouTube and many other streaming services with one button. 

  • Monitor, headphone, and sound adapter. 

  • Cabling to connect the switcher directly to our theater sound board! This will give us better sound by using the onstage microphones, rather than relying on the built-in microphones on the cameras, which are further away from performers. This equipment also makes it possible for us to balance music and vocals.