A Look at Musical Theatre in the Time of COVID-19

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Isabella Grogman

Musical dress rehearsals on Jan. 20.

Shreya Pendse, Editor

The new year has begun, and the LTHS theatre program will be starting this year off with a production of a comedic musical, “Forbidden Broadway: Greatest Hits.”

The musical will be performed on January 21-23, and will parody musical numbers from several established Broadway productions, like “Les Miserables” and “Rent.” However, this particular production was not the original plan, but was selected due to the need for social distancing.

“There are many things we have had to adapt in order to put on a fun and safe production for our audience, but also for our performers,” Mr. Michael Hollomon, theatre director said. “The first major change is actually our show itself. In order to follow social distancing and rehearsal protocols, we had to switch our winter musical from The Wizard of Oz, which we will hopefully be able to perform next year, to Forbidden Broadway.”

However, the show is not the only major change that has been made. Another major change is the rehearsal schedule, because there is less time for the full company, which is the cast and crew, to rehearse together. Prior to this school year, there were more rehearsals with the whole company, which they cannot do now. 

“So now, most rehearsals are done by individual numbers in the show so we can maintain social distancing and utilize our full rehearsal time,” Mr. Hollomon said. 

There have been some minor changes to choreography to make sure everyone follows social distancing, as well as using a leveled set to create good visuals at the same time. Microphones will still be used, but with minor differences, like assigning one microphone to each actor, for the whole time. Despite these changes, there will still be opportunities for student leadership in the musical. 

“We have three students holding leadership positions in our show, and they have been working very hard to help put on the best show possible,” Mr. Hollomon said. 

Student director, a student vocal director, and a dance captain, Brandon Thomas is the student director, in charge of helping Mr. Hollomon with blocking, and helping actors with their characters. Lily Sherman, the LT dance team captain, is in charge of assisting Mrs. Harmon, the dance teacher, with choreography. Finally, Klaus Kimani, the student vocal director, is in charge of helping actors with music.

“My job is to help everyone with their songs, as well as lyrics, tuning, pronunciation, and how to perform onstage to the best of their abilities,” Kimani said. 

Kimani said that his favorite part of being the student vocal director is working with the cast, but he also said that it is difficult to talk to such a large group. Also, he has had to adjust to some new protocols, like singing while wearing masks. 

“The biggest change due to COVID is definitely singing in a mask,” he said. “We have special singing masks this year, but they’re pretty thick and sort of uncomfortable. But, the show must go on and we must adapt!”

While directing, Kimani said that he has learned a lot through working with his co-directors, as well as asking fellow choir students who are in the musical for some advice. Like the rest of the company, he is looking forward to opening night. 

“On opening night, I’m most looking forward to the excitement we all feel before we begin,” he said. “It’s definitely an adrenaline rush but as long as we’re all prepared, everything will go just fine.”