Students adapt to Covid for theater production

By Shyia Patrick

The Jag

This year, the theater department at South has kept on going strong and just put on their second production of this year. The musical was selected to be put on was “The 25th Annual Putnam Spelling Bee” and the musical did just as well as all their past musicals and plays have done.

“I choose this musical because it was a smaller cast that we could break into smaller groups for Covid restrictions and you can bring the whole thing together at the end into one big show.” South’s drama teacher and musical director Timothy Haynes said about why this play was picked for this year.

Due to the pandemic, restrictions have been placed district-wide to help protect students and teachers and the cast had to work around that. To keep the cast smaller, two separate casts were organized to prevent students overcrowding the stage and to prepared for if a student from a cast was quarantined, they would be ready to fill their spot.

Another change of this year’s musical was there were no leads.

“The great thing about this show is that there really wasn’t a lead. There were a few students who had a song or two more than others, but, in general it was an ensemble play so everyone had a song and a time to shine so it was pretty great.” Haynes says.

Another thing that was done to keep students safe was the use of clear masks so they could see each other’s faces and still be able to perform well.

In total, four shows were performed, and each cast was able to perform the show twice. “This year was challenging because it wasn’t a normal year. With COVID, everything has changed but it was a challenge, but a necessity, to adjust to keep everyone safe,” actress Anna Miller explains. Miller is a junior and her first play she acted in was in The Beauty in the Beast in 2019 and she portrayed the role of chip.

“The two casts worked well together and cheered one another on throughout the rehearsal and performance process,” Miller says.

“We did have one cast member get quarantined before the show, but her quarantine was up on opening night. Although it made for some difficult rehearsals, we were still able to push through. She joined us via FaceTime every single day, and we still got our work in. Luckily, she got to join us on opening night, and all was well in the end,” production crew member Linda Alviar says. She oversaw the lighting design for the musical.

The casts both worked hard to successfully provide a new musical for this year and also used this year as a learning experience.

“The main challenges of this year’s musical for me was not having our lead crew director. (South math teacher Jon) Frentrop, who normally directs production and stage crew, was ill due to a kidney transplant. That left our lead director, Mr. Haynes, and I to design lights and take over most of the technical work that Mr. Frentrop would normally cover. Without his expertise, it was a very big challenge to learn and operate the more challenging and intricate aspects that he would normally see of tech crew. It was definitely a valuable learning experience and I am glad to say that he is in a speedy and effective recovery,” Alviar says.

Despite how COVID has changed this year, the entire casts still had plenty of fun and were able to make new memories together. In total, they were able to host four successful shows with both casts.