How do you turn a small apartment into an online recording studio that is expected to attract a worldwide audience?
That’s the challenge facing Suffolk students, best friends, and roommates Kasey Armstrong and Collin Smith—cohosts of the SpringFest 2020 variety show to be webcast at 7 p.m. Friday, April 24.
In preparation of the feel-good event of the year, the roommates have moved furniture to make room for a camera, lights, and a green-screen background for their time in the spotlight. Memorizing their lines also is a top priority.
They feel like Hollywood stars, and they will look the part, with Armstrong in a gown and Smith in a tuxedo.
“Being part of this is something special because it makes you feel really connected to the Suffolk community,” said Armstrong, Class of 2022, a government major. “I’m very excited and it’s a fun way to celebrate the arts with such a big event.”
Smith, Class of 2022, a history and theater double major, sees cohosting SpringFest online as a unique opportunity for a student. “I think it helps to build confidence, and it’s a collaborative process with so many people,” he says.
The show must go on
When Suffolk moved to remote classes due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Performing Arts Office quickly put a plan into place so that the popular SpringFest event, a campus variety show of nearly a half-century duration, would continue, but in a virtual setting.
“We made a ‘show-must-go-on’ decision,” said Suffolk Performing Arts Director Kristin Baker. “We reached out to students, faculty, staff, and alumni across the globe, and they have responded to the call.
“In a lot of ways, this event has showcased who we are at Suffolk, honoring our traditions while being flexible enough to adapt to new circumstances. We are creatively pulling together as a community to support one another.”
Something for everyone
SpringFest will open with a message from Suffolk President Marisa Kelly, followed by acts that include musical groups, dancers, and baton twirlers. An international student will perform from Switzerland, and an alumna will play a Chinese instrument with over 2,500 years of history.
Brian McDermott, director of University Media Services, and his Suffolk Shufflers band made up of staff and faculty members were so determined to be part of SpringFest that they put together a new song in a remarkably short time.
“We’re proud of the final product and hopefully it will inspire the true spirit of the Suffolk community,” said McDermott, Class of 1982 and 1986, who plays piano and keyboards. “SpringFest is a win-win situation and this celebration of everyone’s accomplishments is exactly what we need at this time.”
One of the most anticipated SpringFest segments is the Grand Finale, a high-energy video featuring Suffolk community members dancing to the song “From Now On” from the movie The Greatest Showman.
“There were so many talented people who submitted videos and wanted to be part of the finale,” said event choreographer April Duquette, BA ’09. “Their participation showed how performing arts can be a positive way to express yourself, even in difficult times.”
Suffolk Performing Arts Associate Director Kathy Maloney takes great pride in the fact that SpringFest 2020 is going to happen on the same date and time as originally planned.
“The heart of SpringFest is to bring everyone together in the community through the arts, and I’m thrilled that we are able to continue this long-lasting tradition,” she said. “There are so many people who have connected at this event over the years and have gone on to become lifelong friends. That is what being part of the Suffolk family is all about.”