CONWAY, SC (WBTW) — Robert Laws is about to graduate from Coastal Carolina University’s musical theater program. Every year of his college experience has been marred by COVID-19.
Coastal’s BFA musical theater program is one of the most hands-on majors on campus.
“I took, for example, a basic dance class my freshman year,” Laws said. “You also have to take singing lessons year-round as a musical theater specialist, and you also take acting lessons every year.”
The program requires in-person and face-to-face interaction to be successful.
“What’s important is communication and interaction,” Laws said. “That’s all our major is, and that’s all we trained for.”
When the pandemic hit in March 2020, fine arts majors dealt a blow to their education.
“It was breathtaking,” Laws said. “The rug was pulled right under us.”
Like every university in the country, Coastal Carolina has had to pivot and find a way to continue giving its students a safe education.
“We just did Zoom for the rest of the semester,” Laws said. “Instead of having my singing lessons in person, I should meet in front of the camera to sing.”
He said dance classes were also weird on Zoom.
“Normally in dance class you like this interaction so that you are asked ‘how can I improve?’ Laws said, “This major is so hands-on, you want to be there with people. It’s hard to do that virtually.”
Virtual learning has started to weigh it down.
“At first I lost a lot of myself,” Laws said. “It’s hard to find the connection when someone is 10 feet away from you on camera.”
He said the roller coaster of the past three years had made the return to normal even sweeter.
“I was very grateful, honestly,” Laws said. “Our major depends so much on interaction, you know, like, we feed off each other’s energy.”
Laws said while it was tough, he didn’t let COVID-19 ruin his theater education.
“I don’t regret anything I did,” Laws said. “It was an eye-opening experience to prepare me for who I am today.”
His extraordinary university experience taught him an important lesson.
“Everything will work out eventually,” Laws said. “At the end of the day, like you could get the rug pulled out from under you or you could be the best thing since bread, you’ll be fine.”
He knows how to prepare for anything.
“I feel like a lot of people really don’t understand that until they come to a point, like when they’ve been through three years of COVID, they’re like, ‘oh my God, anything can happen ‘” Laws said.
Now he is ready to embark on his career.
“My plan right now is to move to New York…to audition day by day and hopefully go to Broadway. Fingers crossed,” Laws said.
He said his upbringing at CCU prepared him for this moment.
“I think I’m ready,” Laws said. “I don’t think I could be more prepared because I’ve been through it all and learned so much from it.”