“Lights, camera, action!”
Three words that many of the Musical Offering performers are not used to hearing. After months of uncertainty whether the show would go on, local Evanston music school, The Musical Offering, finally filmed and is now streaming the original fall play, Mine ‘Till The End.
ETHS 2021 graduate Howard Godfrey worked for months writing, composing and directing the annual fall show. Rehearsals were put on pause in October and resumed in the spring; what started as an on-stage script transformed into a 113-minute film. A few modifications were made, but ultimately the movie turned out to look and feel better than imagined.
“We had to revise the script to make it a bit more COVID-friendly like shooting some scenes outside, but with a professional camera crew and several cameras and angles it turned out really well,” Godfrey says.
The musical, set in the ‘40s, focuses on famous jazz singer Delilah Hunt (played by senior Isa Victorson), who signs a deal with her demonic manager, Adonis Hemlock (played by Niles West senior Jake Pranian) in exchange for fame and fortune. The show follows Hunt as she visits her sick mother, leading to another “deal with the devil.” These decisions keep the audience in awe as they watch the subsequent consequences unfold.
“I wanted to do something a little bit dark, a little supernatural and unlike anything I’ve written in the past,” Godfrey explains.
After being a part of the Musical Offering for six years, and writing for the fall show for four, Godfrey’s experience and attention to detail is seen throughout the show. The relationship between Hunt and Hemlock mimics one of domestic abuse showing the layers of complexity within Mine ‘Till The End.
“In the show, I was either singing, screaming or crying. It was a very emotional part and trying to find strength in the character and bring realness to the imaginary circumstances was really interesting,” Victorson says.
In addition to the production’s themes, working with the mid 20th century setting proved to be complex. After researching archived images and magazines, Godfrey and Costume Director Alethea Koconis used popular styles from that era to create a vision of how they wanted the characters to dress. Koconis then set out to find and make costumes that matched the time period and look they desired.
“I went to a bunch of thrift shops all over Chicago and found pieces that could either go in the show as is, or only needed minimal alterations,” Koconis explains. “All the costumes in the show are thrifted.”
Godfrey composed the score by taking inspiration from ‘40s musical theater style and mixing it with more contemporary style music. The original soundtrack was virtually recorded and later edited together. Additionally, throughout the composition Godfrey added elements from his past shows to reflect on his time with the Musical Offering.
“I was able to incorporate some lines that fit from my first show and I repurpose some melodies and lyrics that I wrote in past years to give this year a special meaning to wrap up my final MO show,” Godfrey says.
The cumulation of patience and hard work paid off as audiences watched the virtual premiere of Mine ‘Till the End on July 16, 2021. Tickets are still on sale and the movie can be streamed until September 1, 2021.
“It’s really cool to be able to say that we turned our musical into a movie. Now people can watch it whenever they want, and, plus, we get to hold onto it for the future,” Godfrey says.
Tickets can be purchased here.