The show goes one UNISTA’s cabaret

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic did not stop UNISTA, who hosted their annual “Best of Broadway” cabaret on their Youtube channel this past Saturday.


Saturday, Feb. 20 saw the UNI Student Theatre Association (UNISTA), along with students of all majors, demonstrate some of the best Broadway has to offer at the Best of Broadway Virtual Cabaret via YouTube.

Prior to COVID-19, the Best of Broadway Cabaret has been an annual live event aimed at showcasing theatrical talents from UNI students. This year, as with most community-oriented live events, UNISTA had to figure out a way to transition Best of Broadway into something safe and socially distanced. As they say, the show must go on – and on it went.

The hosts, theatre majors Marcus Buttweiler and Kyle Chizek, playfully introduced performers before each act. Their short skits and clever jokes attempted to keep the show moving at an easy-to-follow pace while offering a warm sense of community difficult to pull off in a virtual event.

Despite being virtual, the show managed to attract an audience comparable to that of years prior with around 75 viewers throughout the stream. Though Chizek and Buttweiler expressed regret at not being able to have a live show, they expressed their optimism that in-person gatherings will be safe in the near future.

According to Zoella Sneed, director of Best of Broadway and marketing director of UNISTA, one of the biggest challeng- es when approaching this event during a pandemic was ensuring that students and everyone involved were participating safely. They were able to do so with a diligent combination of physical distancing, masks and face shields for those who were not actively being recorded performing.

Despite these guidelines, adapting the show to fit COVID-19 guidelines came with its challenges; some unexpected advantages may have also come into play.

Sneed wrote in an email to the Northern Iowan, “I think the most positive out- come of putting on Best of Broadway during COVID is the fact that we were able to accept auditions from performers who aren’t cur- rently in Cedar Falls!” S

he continued, “There’s an English education major, Kaitlyn Vasey, who is cur- rently in the Des Moines area for her Level 3 student teaching experience before graduation. She was able to participate by sending in a video to us, which I think is so lovely! We even had some talent from the Twin Cities area send in a piece, so I think that opportunity to participate despite dis- tance is quite wonderful.”

This year’s show featured renditions of songs from Broadway new and old – from “Pippin” to “Hamilton” to “Frozen” – and showcased an array of solos, duets and even a trio dance number.

A memorable and sultry performance of “Our Lady of the Underground” featured Cece Bartemes. Concluding a night of per- formances was a show-stopping rendition of “Defying Gravity” from Lily Gast.

“I have been directing this show for the past three years and it never fails to surprise me how much a performance can grow in just a few short rehearsals,” Sneed wrote. “I am so proud of the artists this year, and have… confidence that they will love their performances!”

Even in the midst of COVID-19, UNISTA is still striving to “provide the best experiences for those who do need the safe space and escape from reality that theatre is so well known for,” according to Sneed.

If you happened to miss the show or just want to rewatch your favorites, the entire video is posted on UNISTA’s YouTube channel.