Working from home this spring, in his position as senior research administrator of invoicing in Grants and Contracts Administration at UNC Charlotte, Zack Tarlton ’13 started playing piano during his lunch hour. While his academic training is in architecture, Tarlton has a long history in musical theatre.
“I basically grew up at Matthews Playhouse,” he said. As a student at UNC Charlotte, he managed to sneak away from his desk in Storrs to perform in the Department of Theatre production of “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.”
When a friend suggested expanding his lunchtime musical interludes to something like the “Stars in the House,” a daily online show in support of the Actors Fund in New York, Tarlton said, “OK, we’re going to do this.” Thus was born “Quarantine Concerts,” performances by members of the regional theatre community streamed via Facebook Live and available on the Quarantine Concerts website.
The initiative is in its ninth week and has nearly 30 episodes. Performances take place on the weekends (7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday, and 2:30 p.m., Sunday) and run approximately half an hour. Sometimes the singers use their own tracks, but more often than not, Tarlton arranges the music and records it on the piano for their accompaniment.
“I have transitioned into all of this technology I never thought I would need in life,” he said.
Performers from 11 different theatre companies have participated, local groups like Theatre Charlotte and Actor’s Theatre of Charlotte, and those from Davidson, Cornelius, Matthews and Salisbury.
“It’s really to raise awareness and keep the theatre community engaged, keep the community connected,” Tarlton said. And, as his website proclaims, “to keep the light shining bright.”