Actors perform split-screen musical duets on YouTube
By Cheryl Minns, Senior Columnist
Social distancing has seriously impacted the Greater Vancouver theatre community, causing the cancellation of upcoming productions everywhere. But some local theatre actors have taken to YouTube to entertain those stuck at home. They showcase their talents in a new series of videos called Socially Distant Duets.
The videos feature split-screen performances by young adult actors, who film their parts of the duet separately and then splice the videos side-by-side to create the final production.
“It’s such a great use of time while we’re stuck in this quarantine and a lot of things have been shut down,” actor Daniel Curalli said to the Other Press in a phone interview.
“There are so many artists from our little amazing community who are being creative and adapting to this really scary situation we’re in,” actor Joscelyne Tamburri said to the Other Press in a phone interview. “The kind of art we’re going to make from this situation is going to be historic.”
Socially Distant Duets began when actor Emily Matchette posted on social media that she wanted to continue doing performances, even though all shows had been cancelled and social distancing limits were in place. This became a great alternative.
“I started doing them because Emily posted that she missed performing and singing with people and I was just in a show [Royal City Musical Theatre’s Crazy For You] that had been cancelled and I really missed my friends, so we decided to do our favourite songs and sing them together,” Tamburri said.
Matchette and Tamburri performed “Somethin’ Bad,” a country duet by Miranda Lambert and Carrie Underwood. With Curalli, Matchette did a cover from The Addams Family musical called “Crazier Than You,” a song about how similar Wednesday Addams and her normal boyfriend Lucas Beineke are.
“I’ve never seen The Addams Family, so I had to find the song, look at its context in the musical, and do research. That was a really cool experience because I learned something as well as getting to sing,” Curalli said. Curalli and Tamburri then collaborated on their own duet, “Only Us” from Dear Evan Hansen.
“My favourite one is ‘Only Us’ from Dear Evan Hansen with Daniel,” Tamburri said. “I actually auditioned for the North American tour of Dear Evan Hansen, so I had worked on the stuff.”
Following Matchette’s lead, Curalli began inviting friends and former co-stars to join him for Socially Distant Duet videos. Curalli and Thomas Chan posted “The Other Side” from The Greatest Showman and raised the bar for what can be performed in a Socially Distant Duet. Instead of just singing to the camera, they use duplicate props to pass things to each other.
“It’s nice to try passing things from frame to frame or looking out one side of the frame to your partner, who’s on the other side of the screen. There [are] just so many different things that you can try and do,” Curalli said.
“It’s kind of evolved really quickly,” Tamburri said.
Tamburri’s upcoming performance will be her biggest Socially Distant Duet production yet, a six-person ensemble piece with other Socially Distant Duet performers: Matchette, Amanda Lourenco, Chantelle Ward, Danica Kobayashi, and Megan Greenwood.
“We’re doing the ‘Ex-Wives’ number [from Six]. We’re all going to learn the choreography. We’re all making at-home costumes. We’re going to edit it all together to make one big group number,” Tamburri said. “It’s very ambitious and it’s going to take a little extra time than these usually do.”
“I like the DIY aesthetic that the social distancing has brought together,” actor Daniel Cardoso said to the Other Press in a phone interview.
Cardoso has posted a few Socially Distant Duets to his YouTube account, including one with Curalli and one with Tamburri.
“My favourite was probably ‘You’re Nothing Without Me’ [from City of Angels], which I did with Daniel,” Cardoso said. “Crazy For You would’ve been our third show in a row together. We collaborate well, so it was fun to take that into a song.” For anyone interested in recording their own Socially Distant Duet videos, there are a few things to keep in mind.
“It’s not about whether you’re a good singer, or performer, or anything like that,” Curalli said. “It’s a way to connect with people and not feel isolated.”
“You just have to have the courage to do it and know that it’s going to be great,” Tamburri said.
“The most important part is to have fun and enjoy it,” Chan said.