Skip Navigation

College News

Student actors overcome virtual barriers to bring you “The Emperor’s New Clothes” this October

by Public Relations and Marketing | Published Sep 22, 2020

The comedic children’s fairytale from Hans Christian Anderson, “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” is coming to a Zoom screen near you this October. This production adapted by Max Bush for young audiences is free online through College of Lake County’s theatre department.  

Director Alicia Hall is working with four CLC student actors to embrace the virtual world we’re all living in during the pandemic to tell the story of a clever mother and son disguising themselves as weavers to convince a vain Emperor they can make him a beautiful and magical suit of new clothes. They explain the clothes are invisible and can only be seen by those who are clever and capable. Everyone in the kingdom pretends they can see the clothes, until one child dares to speak the truth. Incorporating a love of acting and theater, this highly entertaining adaptation is sure to delight audiences of all ages. Elijah Janssen-Weitz plays the Emperor and Helen Murphy plays Captain in the virtual fall theatre production, “The Emperor’s New Clothes.”

Theatre performances are exceptionally complex during the pandemic since everything is virtual. Nevertheless, actors, costume and set design is adapting to meet the challenge.  

“Our student actors have to engage their imaginations a lot more than they normally would to create their fellow actors in their shared space,” said director Alicia Hall. “Greenscreen acting is some of the hardest work they’ll ever have to do.”  

Hall describes how hard everyone is working to create an impactful experience for the young audience who will tune in to watch: “So many times where I forget that we’re not all in the same room – that's what we’re going for.” 

Costume designer Sally Gill remarks that the crew is doing very interesting things with technology for this play. “Sets are designed with wonderful drawings projected on green screens, so we will see actors in full costume, both close to the camera and far enough away so you can see them from head to toe.”  

Set designer Tracie Folger said working with green screens has been a learning process. “I spent a lot of time experimenting with building screens at home and trying to design the screens so they can be easily transported and set up in student homes where students may or may not have tools to put things together. This play seemed like the perfect show to create green screen scenery because I can make the set look like pages of a children’s book.”  

CLC student from Highland Park Helen Murphy plays the captain and says the lack of a live audience has also made a big difference. “As an actor you feed off the energy you get from the audience and their reactions, so this whole ‘acting on Zoom’ experience makes me really appreciate having a live audience.” 

“Theatre provides people with a source of entertainment, challenges their thinking, and helps them escape into a different world,” Murphy said. “I like being able to provide that escape for people, especially during a time like the one we’re living in right now.” 

In her director’s notes, Hall writes, “This wonderful adaptation embraces the power and magic of the theatre which is to tell truths through illusion. With humor and warmth, this clever play reminds the audience of the dangers of self-deception and the importance of truth and justice.” 

Performance dates for “The Emperor’s New Clothes” are Thursday and Friday, Oct. 1 and 2 at 10 a.m.; Saturday, Oct. 3 at 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. and Sunday, Oct. 4 at 2 p.m. Register in advance online at This performance is produced by special arrangement with The Dramatic Publishing Company, Inc. of Woodstock, Illinois.  

About College of Lake County: 

College of Lake County is an innovative community college in Lake County, Ill. that transforms lives with its variety of accessible, quality education options. Offered at three campuses in Grayslake, Vernon Hills and Waukegan or online, College of Lake County provides affordable options in a state-of-the-art setting close to home. A large student network, with small class sizes, provides advantages to our students on a career-related program or a path toward a transfer degree. We’re proud to serve the diverse needs of our community and student body. Connect to your future today at College of Lake County. For more information, visit