George Street Playhouse releases streaming play filmed during COVID-19 pandemic

A New Jersey theater is going for laughs, but also sending out a message about pulling through a tough experience as it closes out its pandemic season of virtual shows.
A play about a play might just be the perfect subject to bring to life on stage after a prolonged pandemic shutdown.
“It was so moving, when we finally got to the theater, to be on a real stage,” says Julie Halston, cast member of “It’s Only a Play.”
Halston is among the seven cast members of the first full production by George Street Playhouse to be done since the pandemic started. It was recorded for streaming at the New Brunswick Performing Arts Center without an audience present. The play is a love letter to the theater.
Director Kevin Cahoon says that the COVID-19 protocols put in place – including limited staff and strict schedules – brought on challenges.
“I have never been more stressed out in my life. Watching the clock and watching the script pages…Did we get coverage of that punchline? Did we have good enough coverage?” Cahoon says.
It was the first time that the cast and crew worked together in person since the pandemic began.
“I cried just seeing the hair and makeup person. I just started crying. The minute I start seeing lashes on a table, I start crying. And we had all of that,” says Halston says.
Set at a party following the opening night of a play, the eccentric cast of characters anxiously waits for the reviews to come in, which will mean life or death for the play. Halston portrays the manic leading lady, hoping for a career comeback.
While the plot may surround the theater, between the laughs there is a message for everyone, according to Cahoon.
“It's about resilience, this play. No matter how bad the reviews are, no matter how bad the night has gone, the next morning, you get up,” says Cahoon.
“It’s Only a Play” was written by Terrence McNally. It is available for streaming through July 4.
Ticket buyers can stream "It's Only a Play" by purchasing through the George Street Playhouse site. The nonprofit, professional theatre plans to reopen for in-person performances this fall.