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Broadway-tinged video from Lyme thanks first responders

When Gavin Lodge, managing school lessons for his two kids at home in Lyme, got news that there would be an assignment for "virtual spring break," his first inclination was to groan.

Home schooling seems challenging enough these days.

But the spring break assignment, billed as a gratitude project, became first a family project and then one for the neighborhood, involving a dozen households.

The result is a warm salute to first responders in the time of coronavirus,  a video that seems to toggle between the charms of a simple production by schoolchildren and the professionalism lent by a celebrated Broadway musical director.

Lodge, a professional actor, shares parenthood of 8-year-old Ellison Lodge and 6-year old Colton Lodge with his partner and their other father, Todd Ellison, a musical director, conductor and composer whose Broadway credits include "An American in Paris," "Annie," "La Cage Aux Folles, "Spamalot," "42nd Street," On the Town," "Once Upon a Mattress," "She Loves Me," Taller than a Dwarf" and "A Class Act."

Ellison wrote the song for the video, "Sharing Love and Gratitude for Essential Workers," with lyrics that begin "Can you keep a star from falling," and ends with the refrain "If we do this all together, then we will be all right."

Lodge, who used some the entrepreneurial skills of his new business, E.C. Knox, which makes baby gear for dads, organized the production. Colton sings while her brother helped bring all the neighbors on board.

The video is essentially a rolling tour of their street, with neighbors gathered in front of their houses, screaming, whistling, waving and shouting thanks to first responders of the pandemic.

Lodge admits that it is his partner's song, which indeed captures the simplicity of a child's gratitude, that most elevates the quality of the production.

"It shows the power of emotional music," he said.

Ellison and Lodge live in New York City, where their children are enrolled in P.S. 3 in the West Village. They bought the house in Lyme to be near family — Ellison grew up in Essex — and they were contemplating moving here full time, even before the pandemic.

Their house in Lyme was once owned by Ellison's first grade teacher, who used to entertain his parents, also teachers.

Lodge said it took a few weeks to complete the video. Coordinating with neighbors wasn't so hard, he said, since most everyone is home and few have scheduled commitments these days.

Everyone was enthusiastic when asked, he said.

"I will say it is a community of people who don't exactly get together for barbecues on a regular basis," he said. "We definitely came together for this as an entire road. This is a time for people to come together."

Lodge said he submitted the project to the school, where he is a co-president of the PTA, and got a good response.

"It's a school that's all about peace and love," he said. "This was on brand for my kids' education, which is so much about expressions of love and community and bringing people together."

"When this started, my kids said, 'Of course we are going to do something like that.'"

His kids start and end the video on a stone stoop.

"Thank you, first responders, for saving us from coronavirus," they say in unison at the video finale, before springing off the step into handstands.

It is very sweet.

This is the opinion of David Collins. 


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