In the song “Anybody Have a Map?” from the Broadway musical “Dear Evan Hansen,” two mothers wonder how to connect with their teenage sons.
Now, as people shelter at home during the coronavirus outbreak, everyone is wondering how to stay connected.
In a response to the uncertainty of the times, theater students at the University of Mary Washington recorded their own version of “Anybody Have a Map?” with lyrics updated by Jon Reynolds, the theater department’s director of marketing and audience services, to reflect common experiences of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The students recorded themselves singing individually in their own homes and submitted their videos. Director and theater department chair Gregg Stull and production supervisor Brandon Prendergast—with help from James Gardiner, a deputy director at Washington, D.C.’s Signature Theater—edited the recordings together into a video that was posted to YouTube, where it has been shared several thousand times and was applauded by Broadway star Laura Benanti.
“When we left campus on March 12, we held an important goal of keeping our students active and engaged while they were distant from us,” Stull said.
UMW sponsored a trip to New York last year to see “Dear Evan Hansen,” and the musical was a Common Read across campus in the 2018–19 academic year, Stull said, so it is familiar to many students.
“We really wanted to create something with our students that gave them a chance to respond to their feelings and was hopeful in these uncertain times,” Stull said.
The changes to the song’s spoken-word lyrics, which were approved by creators Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, reflect a post-coronavirus world in which classes are held via Zoom meeting, friends socialize after class virtually through Google Hangouts, in-person commencement ceremonies are postponed and toilet paper is hard to find.
The sung chorus describes a sense of uncertainty that everyone right now can relate to.
“Does anybody have a map?/ Anybody maybe happen to know how the hell to do this? / I don’t know if you can tell / But this is me just pretending to know / So where’s the map? / I need a clue / ‘Cause the scary truth is / I’m flying blind / And I’m making this up as I go.”
Senior Lydia Hundley said she was “ecstatic” to be given the project to work on.
She said she was devastated when UMW moved to remote operations in March and she learned she wouldn’t get to finish her time on campus in person. Working on “Anybody Have a Map?” helped her process those feelings.
“I cried a lot [when in-person classes were canceled], but seeing all of the incredible people on the screen singing the same song that I was filled my heart with extreme joy,” she said. “I was bursting at the seams with pride for my community. I didn’t get to say goodbye to them, and this definitely helped me at least say, ‘This isn’t goodbye, it’s ‘see you later.’ ”
Senior Jess Elkins, a first-generation college student, said she’s grateful to the theater department for giving her the opportunity to work on the song.
“It was definitely nice to see that the professors I work with so closely care enough to create something like this that represents our feelings well,” she said.
“Everybody is craving art right now,” Elkins continued. “The people in charge of our department are all doing their best to provide that for us, as well for the people who miss seeing the work.”
Watch UMW Theater’s edition of “Anybody Have a Map?” at youtube.com/watch?v=fgcZGzgZEss&feature=youtu.be.