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The pandemic ruined one musical’s debut plans. Not for long

NEW YORK (AP) — Huge waves couldn’t stop Tori Murden McClure from becoming the first American to row across the Atlantic Ocean solo in 1999. So it’s only fitting that a global pandemic couldn’t stop a musical about her feat from making it to audiences — just not the way it was originally intended.

“Row,” which was scheduled to make its stage debut at the Williamstown Theatre Festival in Massachusetts in the summer 2020, is instead making its world premiere this month as a recording available on Audible.

“This whole process has been like a slow blossoming,” said Dawn Landes, who wrote the songs and lyrics. “It’s really become a completely unique piece of art, which I never really could have even imagined.”

When “Row” is released Thursday, it becomes a rare work — a world premiere musical that’s never first had any sort of stage production. Without visuals, the team had to create space and time with audio cues.

“The amount of work and back and forth and technical things that you have to deal with to make a new musical in this medium is exponentially more than when you’re in the room and can just try stuff,” said book writer Daniel Goldstein.

To complicate matters, all 10 actors and 9 musicians were never in the same room together due to COVID-19 restrictions. And none of the music had been recorded prior to lockdown.

Never more than three actors were allowed at a time in Audible’s Manhattan studio to record their parts and each was in isolation booths, listening to each other on headphones. An engineer, music director Mary-Mitchell Campbell and director Tyne Rafaeli were also on site.

The musicians — apart from a string quartet that had podded together during the pandemic — were remote and had their parts mixed into the final product. Rehearsals

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