I got the chance to interview the cast and creative team of this year’s Follies’ production of The Little Sternmaid, which will be airing this Friday, May 8th at 8pm on the Stern Follies Club YouTube!
If you want the inside scoop on what you can expect from the biggest virtual Stern event of the year, continue reading below!
What was your favorite or most rewarding part of Follies this year?
“The day the full cast filmed the last scene together, virtually! It was so great to see the dedication of the full cast and crew. You could feel the positive energy emanating from each Zoom screen!!” – Lauren Marinaro (Jetsam)
“Hard to choose – but doing the cast read-and-sing-through when the show was first cast will always be a special moment. It was the first time everyone was together and got to laugh their way through the script. Right up until we got thrown unceremoniously out of the classroom by a professor.” – Sean Ages (King Triton and Follies Musical Director)
“Getting to meet so many new people! As a Langone student I literally only knew 1 of the 30-something members of the cast & crew, so I’ve met a ton of new faces and have really enjoyed getting to meet a whole new group of people at Stern.” – Alexa Keegan (Ariel)
“The first read-through with the whole cast was definitely memorable. The script is really funny and I couldn’t help but notice that a few of the jokes are directly at my expense for some of the work my other club (SGov) is involved in…but I was laughing so much that it didn’t matter. I can’t wait for the rest of the school to have the same experience!” – Sohail Mathur (random MBA extra)
“The energy at the read through was amazing! Immediately I knew this would be a great group and I was super looking forward to building the show with them. Unfortunately, our in-person time got cut short, but the only lead solo rehearsal we had was my favorite moment. We were up late in the leadership lounge, singing our lungs off and buzzing with energy as we got through one of our major numbers ‘At KMC!’ I’m glad I recorded it, as it is something I listen to every once in a while in quarantine. The most rewarding part will be seeing us all perform on the screen!!” – Omer Hit (Scuttle the Champ)
“I really enjoyed seeing how talented some of my classmates are! Not only was I very impressed with their singing, acting, and (virtual) stage presence, but they also brought the performance of the inexperienced cast members (like myself) up a notch.” – Michael Jarboe (Flotsam)
“I’ve been working on this show since last May so it’s difficult to say, but if I had to pick one thing, I would say the dedication of this cast and crew is by far the most rewarding. I am so thankful that when I approached everyone after spring break and asked if they would like to create a virtual Follies, everyone said yes. Seeing everyone (even via Zoom) every day has been my saving grace and allowed me to hold on to one of my favorite things about Stern.” – Gina Borden (Sebastian and Follies Director)
“It was my first year participating in Follies, and my last year at Stern, so when quarantine started, I thought for sure the show would be cancelled, eliminating the chance for me to have the wonderful experience of working with so many talented new friends. My favorite part of putting together this production was seeing that 100% of the original cast, pre-COVID19 was still eager to make the show happen, despite all virtual hurdles.” – Carolina Flores (Flounder)
How did you adapt the show virtually?
“Probably the most fun/challenging part of it was recording audio and video separately so Sean had high-quality audio to splice into the show. Until I was recording, I didn’t realize how strange it would be to be singing when no one could see my face, or dancing when no one could hear my voice. But it was an awesome experience and I’m very glad I had the chance to participate!” – Jefferson Day (Ensemble)
“We knew when school shut down that virtual Follies would be likely, so our amazing board set about adapting the script to be more conducive to a video/Zoom format. Things like narration, small scene rewrites to shift from more physical gags, or even just more attention paid to dialogue were all important considerations. It turns out that was the easy part. The directing team essentially figured out how to do virtual Follies as we went along. But, by the time we were ready to film the last session, we had it down to an art! Getting high quality audio was also very important to us. Ask your friends in the cast about the time stamp system that was eventually developed.” – Sean Ages (King Triton and Follies Musical Director)
“I pretty much was just along for the ride – the crew came up with everything on their own, and I was so in awe of their creativity and persistence to get the show produced. It’s crazy because when we made the decision, it was really before all of the late night hosts/other shows had done anything virtually, and it turned out as we began to film our show that we were basically doing it exactly the same as (if not even better than!) a lot of the professional productions. So, I give the crew a ton of credit for their resilience and production skills.” – Alexa Keegan (Ariel)
“I have to commend the Follies crew for doing such an amazing job planning and coordinating rehearsals and shooting virtually. I’m especially in awe of Sean Ages who did the musical direction; he made things so easy for musically-challenged neophytes like me, individually singing all the parts (the leads, chorus, melodies), making it very easy for us to follow along. Our amazing director Gina Borden did an incredible job working with everyone as we did scenes, singing, and dancing separately, at different times. I’m so grateful to the core Follies crew for all their hard work in making this show happen remotely and for letting me be a part of it. I can’t wait to see how it has all come together on Friday!” – Sohail Mathur (random MBA extra)
“Here is where the creative team for Follies really shined. They decided the show must go on, by rescheduling rehearsals and filming sessions to the evenings, and adapting some choreography. I loved spending my evenings with my fellow Follies crew and look forward to giving the quarantined Stern community some light in this odd time of flux.” – Omer Hit (Scuttle the Champ)
“To be honest, I really doubted that we would be able to pull the thing off virtually, but I was very impressed by the ability of the cast to pull together and work through the scenes as we all figured out how to best put the play together in real time. The flexibility of everyone was absolutely crucial to us throwing this thing together, and I’m very excited to see the results!” – Michael Jarboe (Flotsam)
“Please refer to my Developing Managerial Skills final paper (laughs). But actually. It was quite a project, but Sean and I have been in constant communication deciding how we should record video vs. audio, troubleshooting issues, and revising methods as we found easier ways of accomplishing what we wanted to. Some very late nights, but at the same time, I got more sleep than I would have if I were directing the live show… :)” – Gina Borden (Sebastian and Follies Director)
“Gina and Sean were resilient, dedicated and creative while directing us via zoom and throughout the process of piecing together the hundreds of different zoom recordings and audio files. Bless them! I can’t even begin to imagine how long that must have all taken. As actors, we just had to commit to being silly, in character, and redoing the scene as many times as necessary to get the recordings just right.” – Carolina Flores (Flounder)
They say the show must go on. Why was it important for you to continue Follies this year, despite the challenges?
“It felt extremely important to continue Follies this semester. Now, more than ever, Sternies need a medium on which to connect and an excuse to laugh together, even virtually!” – Lauren Marinaro (Jetsam)
“Follies is an annual Stern tradition and this year should be no different! It was important to the creative team to get our show out there. So much effort had gone into it (and, if we’re being honest, we think it’s kind of funny). I think it’s also important to be able to take a step back and have some laughs, especially with all the gloom going on in the world. Plus, we still had to prove ourselves to last year’s Follies board!” – Sean Ages (King Triton and Follies Musical Director)
“I was so excited for the show, and I trusted the team’s creative vision and was excited to be a part of something unique! I hope it offers a bit of solace to students who are looking for a laugh or distraction during tough times.” – Alexa Keegan (Ariel)
“I call myself an MBA 2.5, as I started in the Langone program and accelerated my course load as a full timer this last fall. I’ve been lucky enough to be in two Follies productions during my time at Stern and I’m excited to have a series wrap with this performance. Follies is one of the most beautiful parts of Stern. It brings us all together from our different program tracks and allows us to come together as a community, as we laugh and sing about our unique communal idiosyncrasies. Though we can’t do it in person this year, the fact that people have been in isolation for so long is even more of a reason to put smiles on people’s faces and remember how beautiful our Stern community is.” – Omer Hit (Scuttle the Champ)
“It’s so important to do everything we can to make our current situation more normal, even if it’s a bit of a pain in the ass. Yes, it was weird and difficult to do the show virtually, but it allows us to keep up with Stern traditions and give the class a moment to laugh.” – Michael Jarboe (Flotsam)
“One of the most important things about Stern is its community. With the pandemic, being able to spend time with our community has been greatly affected, so it was important to me to still direct Follies to foster connections with my classmates (and for my classmates) virtually. Though it’s not the same, it has been incredibly rewarding and absolutely worth it. On a more personal note, I have been performing my whole life, and as I pivot in my career I have less and less opportunities to do so. I am so grateful that I was able to participate in Follies during business school to continue doing the thing I love. It has made my time at Stern.” – Gina Borden (Sebastian and Follies Director)
“In coping with the new reality, I found myself holding onto as much of the familiar Stern experience as possible. I am so glad that the organizers found the strength in them to rally us forward. The distraction was welcome and the opportunity to step away from my new day-to- day to integrate humor and lightheartedness was so appreciated.” – Carolina Flores (Flounder)
What can we look forward to for this year’s show?
“We have a few SURPRISE GUESTS you will recognize that were willing to risk their serious reputations to bring excitement to the show!!” – Lauren Marinaro (Jetsam)
“I think people are going to be wowed by our cast’s amazing performances. The dedication they showed all through this semester is apparent in every scene. The music of Alan Menken never hurts, either.” – Sean Ages (King Triton and Follies Musical Director)
“Come on, the script is SO GOOD. The first time I read it in our all-cast read-through, I could hardly say my lines because I was crying from laughing so hard. The jokes are hilarious, and I could barely even keep up with all of them as we read through.” – Alexa Keegan (Ariel)
“The energy, the songs, and the story are wonderfully put together. You’ll have the songs stuck in your head for a while after and you’ll never be able to see The Little Mermaid again without thinking of us.” – Omer Hit (Scuttle the Champ)
“Stand by for us to throw some shade at SGOV!” (laughs) – Michael Jarboe (Flotsam)
“Creative costumes. Jabby jokes. Virtuosic voices.” – Gina Borden (Sebastian and Follies Director)
“As it does every year, the show will bring the Stern community together! Aside from the script and lyrics being hysterical and incredibly smart, the entire show is an editing masterpiece. I can’t wait to see everyone’s reactions. The performance will remind us how strong, capable, and resourceful we can be.” – Carolina Flores (Flounder)
Where did you draw inspiration from for your character?
“I was a big fan of The Little Mermaid as a kid, so I tried to emulate the eel, Jetsam, to the best of my ability/memory. However, since in The Little Sternmaid Jetsam is a prospective banker, I drew inspiration from my fellow buds in banking, namely Rami Bidshari, and tried to be really cool and elusive (laughs).” – Lauren Marinaro (Jetsam)
“Ariel is tough because she’s sort of the “straight man” of the comedy show – she’s really Type A, but she also has some hilarious and relatable lines. Also, there’s a part of the show where her personality changes completely (can’t say why!) – so she really goes through a lot of different phases within the show! I think that’s relatable for students because you come into Stern thinking you’re going to be one thing, and often that will completely change by the time you graduate.” – Alexa Keegan (Ariel)
“Scuttle is arguably Stern’s biggest fan as it is so hard for him to leave. This wasn’t so hard for me to tap into as my time at Stern comes to a close. I feel rather sentimental and excited about the people and the community that helped make Stern home for me for the last few years.” – Omer Hit (Scuttle the Champ)
“Well, during the read through I wasn’t quite sure how my character should be portrayed so I just started reading my lines normally, then my eel partner, Lauren Marinaro, comes out of the gate with this ridiculous, conniving and well thought out eel voice that made me realize I had to step up my game. I played off of her, then used inspiration from all the banker bros & chicks that I used to know in the pre-COVID world. Expect a lot of wonderfully bad stereotypes.” (laughs) – Michael Jarboe (Flotsam)
“Sebastian is that administrator who we respect but that we’re also friends with because she’s our age.” – Gina Borden (Sebastian and Follies Director)
“My character was that friend you always found yourself running to for recruiting support. I didn’t have a hard time finding inspiration. I had 1.5 semesters of seeing Sternies doing this first hand in my back pocket.” – Carolina Flores (Flounder)