Fischer Barnett, a college freshman in the School of Drama, is one of six teenagers from across the country who will appear in the HBO Max original documentary special "Homeschool Musical: Class of 2020." The special will be available to stream Thursday, Dec. 17.
Told in a self-shot documentary style, “Homeschool Musical: Class of 2020” shines a light on the personal experiences and incredible musical talent of teens who have been confronted with the many unique challenges of 2020. Each teen performs a well-known song that organically expresses their emotions about their experience as high school seniors whose world was turned upside down by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Barnett, who is from Brookeville, Ohio, sang “Dog Days Are Over” by Florence and the Machine, which she said best fit her personal story as a teenager in quarantine. “It fit my whole attitude. The quarantine was the first time in a long time I was alone with myself and had a lot of time for soul searching,” she said.
The documentary also features interviews showcasing the unique perspectives, wide range of emotions and hurdles the teens experienced during their last year of high school and illustrating their resilience. Barnett said the quarantine allowed her time and space to make mental progress. “I was able to let go of things I had been holding on to. As the result of that, I came out as transgender,” she said.
Barnett’s process began in June 2020 when she sent her audition tape after finishing her senior year remotely at Stivers School for the Arts. Later that summer, she packed up and moved to Winston-Salem. The day she arrived at UNCSA, she learned she had been accepted for “Homeschool Musical: Class of 2020.” Barnett immediately secured the support of the Schools of Drama, Design and Production and Filmmaking. Her local crew included Drama students Abigail K. Garcia, Sam Lee Baladejo, Dara Kovacevic, Ferin Bergen and Maya Mays; Design and Production students Kathryn Sykes and Jake Frizzelle; and Filmmaking students Ben Wester and Blake Ellis.
The project was inspired by #SunshineSongs, an online movement by Tony® Award winning actress Laura Benanti (“My Fair Lady” and “She Loves Me” on Broadway, “Younger,” “Supergirl” and “Nashville” on television) who offered to be an audience of one for the students around the country whose spring musicals were cancelled because of COVID-19. “Homeschool Musical” offered students the opportunity to sing and dance from the safety of their homes. Benanti is among the executive producers for “Homeschool Musical,” which is produced by Emmy Award-winning World of Wonder (“RuPaul’s Drag Race,” “Million Dollar Listing New York.”)
Barnett, who aspires to work in musical theater, said the project was a very rewarding experience. “I realized I was transgender long before I came out, but I feared I wouldn’t be able to work in this industry. The incredible people behind this show saw something in me and they value me as an artist,” she said.
"I wish everyone could come out of this pandemic with such a gift,” she added.
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December 03, 2020