How The Pandemic Has Affected Theater In My Life

February 16, 2021

How The Pandemic Has Affected Theater In My Life

Everyone remembers when quarantine just started, March 13, 2020. I remember the time leading up to when schools shut down so vividly. It was a half-day at school for some reason; I remember the first period sitting in my English class and my teacher Mrs. Coffay began class with us talking about what we think is going to happen with the pandemic. She had said some teachers had started to prepare work to give to their students and she briefed us on what she would assign us if/when the school closes. School that day was kind of like the calm before the storm; classes were pretty simple that day due to the half-day. I remember laughing at one of my friends whose parents had him bring all his school stuff home that day and on the way to the buses talking with one of my friends about school closing. We both thought school would close on the upcoming Monday so teachers would be able to give us any work to do. Once lots of schools shut down my friends and I watched New Hartford’s website like hawks hoping for what we thought would be a two-week break. 

A little context about New Hartford: it has two theater productions a year, one in the fall for the middle school (for us that’s 7th-9th grade) and one in the spring for the high school. March 12, was the opening night for the show Mamma Mia, since I was still in middle school I was not in the show as a performer and I chose not to do crew so I could focus on schoolwork and the other clubs I was in. While the cast of Mamma Mia was able to enjoy opening night and teachers night performances they missed out on three almost sold-out shows. I can’t imagine how the seniors felt having a show they have worked so hard on ripped away from them. I was very fortunate that 9th grade is part of the middle school so the idea of a pandemic closing down the production I was in wasn’t even a thought in my head.

Now that brings us to this year, since I am a sophomore in high school I am able to act in the high school musical production. When the school year started my theories on what would happen for New Hartford’s theater department was the fall show would not happen unless they did an online version which they did! I figured maybe by the time the high school show started rehearsals we would actually be able to do an in-person show with social distancing and all the safety regulations. My school has been full online now for quite a while and right now is supposed to go back on February 1st. Right before winter break, my school’s theater program had a zoom to announce the show and give us some insight on what plans they have to deal with all the regulations. Our show is Les Miserables! I’m super excited for it. I submitted my audition for it last night, fingers crossed I get cast in the show! 

So auditions this year were very different than usual, the normal audition process is you sing an excerpt of one or two of the songs that they gave you in the audition packets, then you have to act out a scene from the packet, and finally, they teach you a dance and have you perform it to music from the show. Obviously, this was not something that we could do because of the school being shut down. Instead, they are having you record yourself singing an excerpt from two songs in the show and submitting that. For those who have callbacks, they will be the same process as the normal auditions. I don’t want to give too much away about the plan our directors came up with so we can actually perform this year so this will be on the vaguer side of things. First of all, there will be a limited cast; usually the high school production is about 50 people. This production will be much smaller for the safety of the cast and crew. Everyone will be following all mask and social distancing protocols the whole time. For the actual production since it is not safe to do a full in-person performance it will be a recording. What they are doing is having the leads and ensemble perform and get recorded on different occasions and then have someone edit the two performances together to make it seem like one recording. Oh, I forgot to mention this whole plan will only work if New Hartford goes back to a hybrid school plan.

So thank you Covid-19 for jeopardizing another high school’s production. I’m hoping that people will get better at wearing masks when they are not at home and not hanging out with people if they aren’t going to be wearing masks. I doubt that will end up happening though due to some people not believing that the virus exists or having the naïve idea that they can’t get COVID because they are young and healthy. Honestly just wear your mask I get that it can be annoying but it’s not restricting your breathing and it could save lives. Plus you can use your mask to keep you warm and we all know an upstate New York winter is anything but warm.


By Jadyn Frank

Broadway Utica Youth Ambassador

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