With help of homemade green screen, Lawrence Arts Center’s fall ballet show goes virtual

photo by: Lawrence Arts Center

A still from the Lawrence Art Center's "Trick or Treat Masquerade."

As the leaders of Lawrence Ballet Theatre considered how they would have a show this fall, they came across two problems.

First, they wouldn’t have the money to put on a show because they wouldn’t be able to have a full audience during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Second, they knew it wouldn’t be safe to have a finale with all 21 dancers on stage.

“The traditional performance wasn’t going to be possible,” said Hanan Misko, dance school director with the Lawrence Arts Center. “But we knew we had to perform.”

They had the lights. They had a camera. They had the talent. Then, they realized: All they needed was a green screen.

The Lawrence Arts Center’s “Trick or Treat Masquerade” show, which premieres on Saturday, won’t be a live performance. It will be a screening of a dance film featuring the 21 dancers in Lawrence Ballet Theatre.

How did it happen? Misko bought four pieces of green fabric and two gallons of green paint and turned the art center’s main stage into a green-screened film studio. The dancers came, masked and in small groups at a time, to perform their sections of the show. Jason Badgett, who served as the videographer, filmed all the dancers and digitally added various spooky backgrounds to place the dancers in their setting.

photo by: Marlo Angell

From left, Phoebe Morris, Isla Gnojek and Rhubarb Brubacher perform a scene from the “Trick or Treat Masquerade” on the main stage turned green screen of the Lawrence Arts Center.

Badgett was even able to manipulate the video to make it seem like all 21 dancers were on stage at the same time.

“Our videographer made magic happen and made it seem like they are all together, dancing to the music,” Misko said.

The show, directed by Cynthia Crews, features a skeleton and a pumpkin who go trick-or-treating in a neighborhood full of Halloween creatures. They meet some ghosts, witches and other creatures before they come across a being that truly frightens them: a little girl. Quickly, they realize they don’t need to be scared, and they all put on a ball together at the end.

The 21 performers in the masquerade are between the ages of 12 and 18, Misko said. Their costumes include masks with witch noses attached to them, and some masks even have attached beards. Misko said the show adapted well to the COVID-19 era, and that “we decided to embrace that COVID look and treat the mask as part of the costume.”

Misko’s favorite part of the show was doing something new and being innovative in order to make the performance a reality.

The “Trick or Treat Masquerade” is available for purchase online or for an in-person audience viewing on Halloween at the arts center. There will be three showtimes on Saturday: 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. Each showing will be limited to 25 tickets, and audience members will be able to spread out, as the theater fits 300.

For those who prefer to watch the film at home, the show will be available to purchase beginning Thursday through Dec. 8 with pay-what-you-can options. For more information, go to lawrenceartscenter.org.

Trick or Treat Masquerade: A Dance Film


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