The show must go on; how theatre addresses tragedy


Photo submitted by Elsa Persson

Musical theatre students bond during a break for their rehearsals for the “Beauty and the Beast.” The group worked hard for weeks, but due to the coronavirus pandemic, the show is now cancelled.

Olivia Bystrom, Field Reporter

A great performance takes time to prepare. With daily rehearsals and a practically nonstop schedule for the last month, the theatre department was working tirelessly to put together the final show of the year, “Beauty and the Beast”. Through this process many theatre students learn that things do not always end up going to plan. Sometimes an actor forgets a line or a stage direction on shownight, things happen and the show goes on. In the case of a worldwide pandemic however, student actors are not even given the chance to improvise. With a show cancellation that no one could have expected, the department is struggling to find a solution.

The original performance dates and process up [until the performance date] have been cancelled. It is still being determined how we will celebrate and express all the hard work the cast, crew, and pit have created so far. The best case scenario is that we get to go back into rehearsal, finish our process, and perform for large community audiences,” director Grif Sadow said.

For the many hard working young actors who spend their days after school rehearsing, the abrupt change has left many feeling aimless. An actor belongs under the warmth of a spotlight, not at home in the dark. 

Junior Lillian Grimm is one of these tragedy stricken actors, who says she feels “out of place” without her daily dose of the performing arts. In her case, it is not only the loss of a show, but the loss of a loving community environment.

“Theatre is a huge part of my life. I have a very sporty family and I’ve tried just about every sport out there, but none of them clicked for me. Theatre gave me a home and another family. I love everyone in the department so much, and I cannot imagine how different my life would be without theatre. It gives me a place where I feel loved and like I belong. It gave me a reason to go to school everyday and it gave me something to smile about,” Grimm said.

Growing up in this theatre department, my senior musical was a monumental show I was looking forward to. To have it taken away by COVID-19 feels like this chapter of my life is left incomplete.”

— Elsa Persson

Seniors in general have been heavily impacted by the pandemic, with worries for graduation and missing out on all the memories they could have made in their last months of high school. “Beauty and the Beast” was supposed to be the very last musical senior actors would perform in high school, their grand finale and the culmination of their years of progress and growth as performers.

Senior Elsa Persson is at the forefront of the theatre department’s leadership team, and has plans to continue with acting into her adulthood. This show was supposed to be her last debut in high school theatre. Instead, she has to cope with potentially never stepping foot on stage again this school year.

“Growing up in this theatre department, my senior musical was a monumental show I was looking forward to. To have it taken away by COVID-19 feels like this chapter of my life is left incomplete. It’s saddening to know that, unlike juniors and underclassmen, I won’t have a second chance to round off my time within the musical theatre part of the department,” Persson explained. 

In the face of the unexpected, actors are capable of adapting to practically any situation. This collective ability to improvise and overcome is what is keeping the community strong during such an unpredictable time. Even if the show can’t go on, there are still lessons to be learned.

“I think the virus is impacting my actors on all levels – mentally, emotionally, physically. I believe the gift here though is that it is reinforcing their skill-building around adaptability, recovery, and creating from the moment. I also hope they are learning their individual power and how to stay collaborative and a team even through distance,” Sadow said.

Bridging this gap in interaction and continuing to support each other, the leadership team has been making strides to keep their actors connected through their social media. Through virtual games and activities, actors continue to express themselves, strengthen their bond and support each other through their days stuck at home. Actors continue to have faith that someday soon they may return to the stage, and even if they do not, they can only stand to grow from this experience.

“This department is very strong and is overflowing with love and talent. I have no doubt we’ll make it through this tough time and come out stronger and closer than ever before,” Grimm said.