Lisa Loeb Hopes Her Zoom Musical About Connecting During the Pandemic Makes People 'Feel Seen'

"There was something heartfelt," Lisa Loeb tells PEOPLE of her Zoom musical Together Apart, on which she collaborated with her fellow Brown University alums during quarantine

Lisa Loeb
Photo: Lester Cohen/Getty

Like many in quarantine, Lisa Loeb found Zoom's platform for human connection to be one of the most powerful tools during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The '90s icon, 53, recently collaborated with some old friends on a streaming musical, which was born out of a reunion with her fellow Brown University alums. "One of our friends from college started putting together some Zoom reunions during COVID times, since we couldn't actually go to our school reunion," Loeb explains to PEOPLE. "And I love seeing friends and connecting with people at reunions. So I was there."

Taking place between the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020 and Election Day in November, Together Apart features 10 seven-minute musical numbers from Loeb, Julie Bowen (Modern Family), Josh Hamilton (13 Reasons Why), Ann Harada (Schmigadoon!), JoBeth Williams (Poltergeist) and more.

The streaming musical was appropriately born out of a reunion with Loeb's fellow musical theater alums. "My friend, Brian Herrera asked everybody to say who they were, when they graduated, what they were up to, their favorite musical theater memory, what they're doing during COVID," she recounts.

"And as people started going around and talking about what was going on in their lives, especially when they were talking about their musical theater memories, in my brain, it just clicked. I said, 'We should write a musical,'" Loeb continues. "Because also, sometimes when people talk and they say very mundane things, to me, I love in musical theater when people just break out into song at those moments. And it just inspired me. I thought we should make a musical."

Encompassing the Black Lives Matter protests, AAPI hate crimes and even Q-Anon conspiracies, Together Apart depicts some of the most pivotal moments of 2020 in a heartfelt way, through fictional, yet very personal, anecdotes that allow for both reflection and healing.

"There was something heartfelt, which included humor, which included tears, which included really mundane things. But when we connect on those things, again, you feel human and you feel seen," Loeb says.

"There were a number of different topics that ranged from the George Floyd murder, and one of the writer's personal experiences with what he was going through, to just even the opening song, 'How Can I Connect?' It's the big question on everyone's mind. ... We have a bunch of different stories, but we realized early on that our main theme was connecting during COVID, connecting during this time."

The project also gave Loeb a chance to connect with her kids through performance, as her daughter Lyla Rose, 11, and son Emet Kuli, 9, both make cameos in one Zoom classroom scene, in which the parents let out their frustrations about the pandemic in song.

"My son seems to have a little dramatic flair, and my daughter plays ukulele," she explains. "They're interested in other things at the moment, but they graciously let me rope them into doing this."

Loeb previously enjoyed the uninterrupted family time during quarantine, as she isolated with husband Roey Hershkovitz, 42, and the kids. "Because the kids were having their school at home for a lot of it, I got more insight into what they do day-to-day," she says.

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"My daughter is very independent, and I don't usually have as much of a sense of what she does day-to-day because she's so independent. And my son, luckily for the schools, he's usually doing a lot of his work at school," Loeb continues. "So it was really a different way for us to be in our house and connecting. Also, we have a great neighborhood, and we really became closer with a lot of our neighbors. At a distance, but closer with them. We were some of the lucky ones."

The COVID-19 pandemic was also a creative time for Loeb. After releasing several children's albums over the years, Loeb dropped her 10th studio album A Simple Trick to Happiness in 2020, in addition to collaborating on Together Apart.

Previously released through 24 Hour Plays, Together Apart raised $30,000 for the Actors Fund during one weekend, helping cast and crew members in the entertainment industry who've gone without work during the pandemic. The musical is now available to stream for free on Broadway On Demand.

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