The Good Theater ensemble and its version of “Seasons of Love,” available as part of a free digital concert. Courtesy of Good Theater

How do you measure a life in a year?

How about love, of course.

The poignance of “Seasons of Love” from the musical “Rent” resonates in a new virtual concert by Good Theater, the Portland theater company that presents its plays and musicals at the St. Lawrence Arts Center. Love is what matters most as we look back on a year measured in unimaginable loss, said artistic director Brian Allen.

Good Theater hopes to resume live performances in the fall. In the meantime, Allen and his creative and personal partner Steve Underwood have produced – and are offering for free – a 60-minute virtual concert of just-recorded show tunes. “Broadway at Good Theater Virtual Concert: Tribute to the 1990’s Part 1” was filmed at the St. Lawrence in February and will premiere on Good Theater’s website beginning Saturday.

It opens with “Seasons of Love,” an ensemble piece. Underwood, Good Theater’s production manager, is also a filmmaker – and singer, actor, comedian and carpenter. He recorded each singer alone on stage, accompanied by a recorded piano track by musical director Victoria Stubbs and Underwood’s harmony vocal. He then stitched all the parts together, and created a video that includes footage of Maine scenes in all seasons that he has filmed over time.

Conor Riodan Martin, left and right, turns in a transformative performance of “Why Cause I’m a Guy” from “I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change.” Photo by Stephen Underwood, courtesy of Good Theater

The rest of the concert is more traditional, with solos, duos and small ensembles of ’90s show tunes, nearly all recorded at the St. Lawrence by 15 or so Good Theater regulars over three weeks. Valerie Perri, a stage and screen performer from California and Good Theater guest in 2018, recorded her songs in Los Angeles.

“I spent a long time just trying to pick the music,” Allen said. “What would work in a live performance on stage doesn’t necessarily always translate well to a small scale and video. It’s an eclectic mix of music and we hope a pleasant hour for people,” he said.

There are big songs, little songs, funny songs, sad songs. Perri turns “Back to Before” from “Ragtime” into a contemporary power song for women. Gusta Johnson has fun with “Miss Byrd,” a song about a mousy secretary’s lunchtime escapades, from “Closer than Ever.” Conor Riodan Martin turns in a transformative performance of “Why Cause I’m a Guy” from “I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change.”

Jennifer Rachelle sings in Good Theater’s digital concert. Photo by Stephen Underwood, courtesy of Good Theater

Other performers are Lynne McGhee, John Lanham, Shannon Thurston, Mary Letellier, Aaron Engebreth, Colleen Clark, Colin Whiteman, Jennine Canizzo, Cory Osborne, Jen Means, David Bass-Clark, Jennifer Rachele, Roosevelt Baker and Dave Grant.

Allen is treating the virtual concert as a gift of spring and the tease of a return to performance. Despite losing more than a year of plays and musicals, Good Theater had a strong fundraising year, he said. The theater was in rehearsal for the musical “Desperate Measures” – scheduled to open March 25, 2020 – when COVID-19 arrived in Maine last March. Until the filming of this weekend’s premiere of the virtual concert, the theater has been in hiatus.

Allen and Underwood turned the forced break into a positive experience as best they could, and they’re glad to be back at work.

“There was a lot of positivity to having some downtime. We’ve done over 100 productions in 18 years, and I’ve directed about 90 of them. It’s been nice to have a year when I didn’t have to go into rehearsal. But I am ready to do that now – or will be in the fall,” Allen said. “We will open with something smallish. I have no idea what the guidelines will be. Will we be at full capacity in October or reduced capacity? It seems prudent to plan to start smaller, and we’ll get back to bigger casts and larger productions when we can.”

Underwood, Craig Robinson and Paul Haley removed and rebuilt the St. Lawrence stage and made other improvements while the theater was closed. The new stage is seamless, solid and sturdy with 3,000 screws. “There are no soft spots,” Allen said. “It’s perfect. It looks amazing.”

They also removed the seats and sanded and painted the risers, and puttied and painted all around the theater. They even sanded the lobby floors. “We have taken the time to put everything in order,” Allen said.

To view the concert beginning Saturday, visit goodtheater.com

To watch “Seasons of Love,” visit the Good Theater’s YouTube channel.

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