After having their production of Legally Blonde canceled last year, Oswego High School’s Standing O Theatre decided to give the musical another try and perform it for a live audience, as well as stream it online. The performers were very eager to get back on stage and perform together. However, the performances looked different this year due to COVID-19 guidelines and regulations.
In general, rehearsals were different because fewer people were allowed to practice at a time since social distancing needed to be followed.
“Due to the 6-foot rule, we would only have so many people in the building at one time. A lot of people didn’t see anyone until the end of the show because we had not all rehearsed together. It felt like there was a big disconnect in the rehearsals,” says OHS junior Joseph Frances, who had the roles of Kyle B. O’Boyle in the “OMG!” cast and Carlos.
Also due to new guidelines, performers had less rehearsal time in preparation for their performance. This affected the relationships that cast members formed before the show and allowed for character development with cast member’s roles and productivity growth.
“Us being on a tighter schedule and…COVID, allowed for us— in our smaller time period, to be more productive, which led us to get farther with our production,” Frances said.
Cast members wore wear a mask at all times, including performances. Having this new guideline pushed cast members to learn how to better read their co-cast members’ body language.
“You can’t really see expression underneath your eyes,” says OHS Senior Brittany Lingle, who had the lead role as Elle Woods in the “OMG!” cast.
Some guidelines that had little-to-no effect on rehearsals and performances were the required temperature and symptom checks.
Despite new obstacles being thrown at the cast, conquering these adaptations and challenges paid off when it came to performance time.
“The performing part was easy. It was just the rehearsing part that was not so easy, but I think it was all worth it, and overall, I loved it,” Lingle said.
Rehearsals were especially difficult because it has taken time to adjust to a new normal post-lockdown.
“Being stuck at our house for the past year— it’s made us reserved, so people aren’t singing as loud anymore, so we’re not used to singing together anymore so it was kind of hard to hear each other, especially on stage,” Lingle said.
On the other hand, having rehearsals be more independent than they were in previous years allowed cast members to get familiar with their roles and feel comfortable when the time for performances came.
“It allowed for more individual time to actually go over things and make sure you knew what you were doing,” Frances said.
While it was a tough decision on whether or not to perform a musical live after a year without one and now with a different atmosphere, this decision was worth it for performers and meant a lot to them.
“Being able to be one of the first performances that people actually saw live was slightly emotional for us because we hadn’t been on a stage in over a year,” Frances said.
Additionally, it allowed for a final goodbye for seniors and insight into what musical theatre means to them.
“I’m majoring in musical theatre in college, so it helped me a lot and it made me really decide what I want to do,” Lingle said.
Moving forward, the Standing O Theatre hopes to continue to perform live musicals for their audiences to enjoy and to provide cast members with the satisfaction of getting to perform on stage.