Tutankhamun defies the pandemic: How NEOMA students fought to put together their musical
Published on 06/25/2021
Published on 06/25/2021
Each year, the CoMu de Reims, attached to the NEOMA Arts Office, puts on a spectacular show. “Tutankhamun: the ascension of a king” was to be held on March 20 and 21, 2020. How did the students manage this project which was turned upside down by the pandemic? Returning from the battles of these last few months, Manon Morel and Mathieu Gum, who managed the musical.
“When the project was launched, in 2019, we really wanted to give the best of ourselves, recounts Manon Morel, third year student of PGE with NEOMA Rheims. The outcome was really good. Everyone who came to see us in rehearsal told us: it’s really incredible. And then the lockdown was enforced. But for us, it was out of the question for something of such good quality to be thrown in the bin. I have been dancing for over 20 years, I could create choreographies with friends, but I have never written a complete show, and I will never have the opportunity to put together such a spectacle again. In the end it took place, and I am very proud”.
Since the start of the 2019 school year, the CoMu de Reims students were preparing this grandiose show: “Toutankhamon: the rise of a king”. They’ve been writing the script, the lyrics, composing, staging, choreographing, designing costumes, and rehearsing for 6 months. The show is more than 2 hours long, an impressive project to pull off. Planned dates: March 20 and 21, 2020. On 16 March, the government announced the lockdown.
“It was very hard, mentally. Not only was the show affected by the lockdown, but in addition we were stuck at home, alone, explains Manon Morel, project manager. Then the question was: are we going to do the show or not? Many had given up on the idea that it could take place”. This student did not want to give up.
While waiting, the “comusards” had to refund the 10,000 euros of ticket sales. A titanic job.
“After this first lockdown which we couldn’t see the end of, we looked for a place to host the show“, says the student of NEOMA. At that time, all the rooms were closed, they have no visibility, or they are taken. “We contacted them all as far as Paris. We found one at Kabaret, in Tinqueux. They only had one weekend date – sine qua none that everyone can be present – at the end of October. And to take no risk, we immediately decided to do a performance on camera”.
Despite everything, the date chosen posed a problem: many “comusards” (sets, costumes, choirs, dancers) were no longer available. The dancers were replaced by new participants who learned the choreography in a month. The situation was more complicated for the role of Horus: the soloist who was to play the role, Quentin O’Hare, was absent. But no one could learn to sing in a month. The team found a solution: they recorded the voice of the soloist. On stage, the theater manager, who knows the play by heart, slipped into his costume.
“In October, I felt that there was going to be a second lockdown, indicated the student who had a premonition for these things. I pushed the show forward two days. Those who were on internship or in class that day asked for days off ». The musical took place as planned behind closed doors. “This allowed us to film the show better, we were able to play the scenes several times, put the cameras at audience level, and get a close frame…” Arriving at 6am, the troop left at 11pm.
The team of “comusards” edited Tutankhamun’s film from what was ultimately very high quality footage. The broadcast was scheduled for April 19 on Youtube. It is leading an important communication campaign. It’s a success: “We had up to 500 people at the same time,” reports Manon Morel. In June, it exceeded 3,600 views.
A nice example of agility and perseverance from a team of students.
Find all the shows of the CoMu
Watch Tutankamon: The Rise of a King